By Bill George, Seoul
GERMAN coach Rudi Voeller praised goalscorer Michael Ballack for sacrificing himself with a booking in yesterday’s 1-0 semi-final victory over South Korea and said the team will try to win the World Cup for their suspended playmaker.
“It’s a great pity he will miss the final, he was one of the best players today,” Voeller said. “Even though he knew that with another yellow card he would miss the final, he still committed that tactical foul that was absolutely necessary and he sacrificed himself and placed himself at the service of the team and the whole of Germany.
“The entire country will stand and applaud him. We will try to win the World Cup for him on Sunday. The way he has behaved at this World Cup must have raised his image not only here but internationally as well.”
The coach added: “We were always in the position to create chances and we were worthy winners. I think we played really well and raised our game. It was our convincing performance that got us through. A few weeks ago when we played high calibre opponents like Cameroon and Ireland in the group stage, nobody expected us to go through to the round of 16 even.
“After the group stage there was less pressure on me and I breathed a sigh of relief after the Cameroon game. But once you reach the semifinal there’s no denying you dream of the final.”
Germany’s experience was a key factor in ending South Korea’s astonishing World Cup run, coach Guus Hiddink felt.
“We are disappointed at not being there (in the final) but we’ll try to calm down the emotions. The German team were a little bit more experienced on many occasions (in the match).
“The expectations in Korea were enormous but not realistic. Earlier in the tournament I tried to keep the pressure away from the team. The team has really come together but you have to keep in mind that they play in the Korean league, which is a second or third class league.
“We threatened occasionally but we didn’t have great chances and neither did the Germans. But they are a little bit more experienced and at the end that will pay.
“We tried in the second half to close them down but in the first half we had a little too much respect for the German team. I am very proud of how the players performed. I don’t want to look for many excuses. There’s disappointment tonight but we’ll recover.
“I hope to bring the players to an acceptable level again to go for third place. We have swallowed this disappointment but we have to recover to go for third place in front of the home crowd.”