Kahn renews bitter rivalry with German keeper Lehmann

OLIVER KAHN has renewed his rivalry with Jens Lehmann despite being retired from international football.

Lehmann criticised Kahn in Spiegel magazine, saying he does not like the way the Bayern keeper considers “himself to be so important”.

That was in reaction to Kahn’s comments that there would never again be an era like his in which one goalkeeper is the dominant German number one. With Lehmann’s place in doubt after Manuel Almunia took his place at Arsenal, Kahn has taken the opportunity to have another swipe at the 37-year-old.

“Instead of showing no style in having a go at his former colleagues, he should be thankful that he even has the chance to play for the national team when he is not playing for his club,” said Kahn yesterday. “This scenario has never arisen in the history of German football.”

Lehmann’s new rival, Timo Hildebrand, is hoping for his chance having ousted Santiago Canizares to become first-choice goalkeeper at Valencia.

“I have taken an important step at Valencia, am playing in their goal and I want to take this same step with the national team soon,” he said.

However, after seeing Kahn and Lehmann’s feud from close up in recent years, Hildebrand aims to get to the top in a different manner.

“There will be no big attacks from me on Jens Lehmann. That does not help and is not my style. I prefer to concentrate on myself; I want to let my performances do the talking and become number one that way.”

Germany coach Joachim Loew knows first-team football for 37-year-old Lehmann is needed sooner rather than later.

“Jens expects that he will be playing again under Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger. Should Jens’ situation not change at a given time, we will have to talk,” said Low. “What is due course? I think December. Of course for the Euro 2008 we need a goalkeeper who is playing.”

Loew is warning his side not to become complacent despite being within touching distance of Euro 2008. Germany can seal their qualification tomorrow night at Croke Park, but until their fate is mathematically clear, Loew is reminding his players a job must still be done.

“Nobody can come and say to me that we have an eight-point advantage over Ireland and we will get through sooner or later,” he warned. “Our aim is clearly to make sure we qualify right now in Ireland.”

Early qualification would allow Loew to begin his preparations for the tournament immediately with the coach claiming that the two home fixture against Cyprus and Wales “would practically be our last chances to experiment”.

The side will be skippered by Torsten Frings, who will play in midfield alongside Bayern Munich’s Bastian Schweinsteiger with Bremen team-mate Clemens Fritz and Real Betis’ David Odonkor fighting for the other midfield berth.

Loew said he has not decided who will partner Schalke 04’s Kevin Kuranyi up front with Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski in contention with first-choice Klose out with a knee injury.

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