Klinsmann Revamps Germany's Colors Image Ahead of Wednesday's Match vs. Cameroon
FRANKFURT Germany (Associated Press) - Juergen Klinsmann has gone a long way in revamping Germany's stodgy image during his three months as coach. His latest move is to change the team's color to red in a symbol of its new aggressive approach.
Instead of the traditional white-and-black uniforms Germany will use red shirts with white shorts when it plays Cameroon on Wednesday in Leipzig in its long buildup to the 2006 World Cup.
"We've settled on offensive soccer as our style said national team manager Oliver Bierhoff. "This should also be symbolized through the new red shirts because the color red stands for a certain aggressiveness."
That has been the trademark of Klinsmann's attitude toward his stated goal of handing Germany its fourth World Cup title when it hosts the tournament.
Klinsmann took over when Rudi Voeller stepped down following Germany's dismal showing at Euro 2004 this summer in Portugal when it failed to advance from the group stage.
A former star forward who won the 1990 World Cup with Germany played in Italy France and England and makes his home in California Klinsmann quickly put his cosmopolitan stamp on the national team.
He consulted American fitness experts hired former teammate and friend Bierhoff to run the team's daily affairs and appointed another friend Joachim Loew to run practices.
Klinsmann ruffled feathers in the conservative German soccer federation (DFB) by pushing through his moves without wasting too much time consulting the establishment. He didn't make new friends but his record - and Germany's new style - speak for him.
In three games under Klinsmann Germany has beaten Austria 3-1 Iran 2-0 and drawn 1-1 with World Cup champion Brazil.
Unlike the slow cautious unimaginative style Germany displayed in the last few months of Voeller's reign Klinsmann's team has shown a refreshing will to attack play fast and aggressively and to take risks.
While delegating some of the job's duties Klinsmann hasn't tolerated dissent. He quickly fired goalkeeping coach Sepp Maier who came out in support of Oliver Kahn. The job then went to another friend and former teammate of Klinsmann's Andreas Koepke.
Kahn was long Germany's undisputed No. 1 goalkeeper. But under Klinsmann he lost the captaincy and was told he would have to compete with Jens Lehmann of Arsenal.
Despite concerns that this could increase friction between the two rivals and destabilize the team Klinsmann has stuck to his decision to leave the job open until 2006.
"There is no alternative. Both will get a fair chance to earn the starting job Klinsmann said.
Lehmann will be in goal against Cameroon while Kahn will be the starter on next month's tour of Japan South Korea and Thailand.
Partly out of necessity and partly through design Klinsmann has rejuvenated the defense with young players based in the Premier League - Robert Huth of Chelsea Thomas Hitzlsperger of Aston Villa and the latest addition rookie Moritz Volz of Fulham.
Klinsmann indicated Tuesday that he could start with a back four of Huth Volz Philipp Lahm and Per Mertesacker who are all either 20 or 21 and have 16 caps between them.
"It's quite possible that we start with a very young defense Klinsmann said adding that he had a solution for how to stop Cameroon's top striker Samuel Eto'o of Barcelona.
"I'll put Huth on him and sleep soundly."
Cameroon's German coach Winfried Schaefer is using the game as a badly needed tuneup for the five-time African champion's World Cup qualifying campaign. Cameroon is third in its group with eight points trailing Ivory Coast with 12 and Libya with 10.
Wednesday's game will officially inaugurate Leipzig's renovated Central Stadium. Once a massive arena for 100000 in communist East Germany it has been scaled down to 44200 seats and upgraded to meet World Cup standards.
This is Germany's 750th international match. The only other time Germany has played Cameroon it won 2-0 at the 2002 World Cup.