Völler's songs of praise could turn into swansong

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The Independent Football

Rudi Völler flew into an extended rant against his critics, live on television, after Germany's dismal performance against Iceland on Saturday.

Rudi Völler flew into an extended rant against his critics, live on television, after Germany's dismal performance against Iceland on Saturday.

The goalless draw in Reykjavik was described by the press as "horrible" and Völler's outburst was triggered by the television commentator and former German international Günter Netzer, who called the match "a new low point in German football".

Völler responded: "I've been sitting here for three years and I have to keep listening to this stupidity. I can't hear this crap anymore. I'm not going to put up with this for long. I'm not going to cling on to my job here. It's not worth it for me."

The Germans appeared clueless about how to break down the Iceland defence, and the home side would have won if they had capitalised on their breakaway chances. "On Wednesday against Scotland, the only players I will use are the ones that promise me to run their rear ends off," Völler promised.

The normally unflappable Völler took over after Germany's early exit at Euro 2000. He was always a popular player and, as coach, has generally faced less criticism than his predecessors, Berti Vogts and Erich Ribbeck. After guiding Germany to the World Cup finals, he became a national idol and had songs written about him. Now, though, his side are hitting all the wrong notes.

His France counterpart, Jacques Santini, said his side's World Cup slump was now behind the European champions after they came within sight of a direct qualifying spot with a 5-0 drubbing of Cyprus. France strengthened their hold on Group One with a maximum 18 points and lead Slovenia by five. If they draw in Ljubljana on Wednesday they are through.

Zinedine Zidane, who missed Saturday's match with a slight thigh injury, will be back in training and should be fit to face Slovenia, who beat Israel 3-1 to keep their hopes alive.

"We had the potential [after the World Cup in Japan and South Korea], we just had to put things together, and now that's done," Santini said.

Spain enjoyed a 3-0 win over the finals' hosts, Portugal, in a friendly. The Spanish impressed against Luiz Felipe Scolari's Portugal but they were watching from the sidelines as Greece all but secured qualification from Group Six.

Greece upset the apple cart with a 1-0 win in Spain in June, and their 1-0 victory in Armenia on Saturday coupled with Ukraine's 0-0 home draw with Northern Ireland put the Greeks four points clear of Spain. With Greece needing a home win over Northern Ireland to finish top, Spain are realistically looking at the play-offs.

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