Germany's World Cup Squad Klinsmann Surprises with Unknown Striker Odonkor

With less than four weeks to go before the World Cup, Germany has picked its 23-strong squad and named a little-known striker, David Odonkor, to inject the surprise and speed the team has lacked in recent matches. Several established players didn't make the cut.


German national soccer team coach Jürgen Klinsmann has named his 23-strong squad for this summer's World Cup and sprung a big surprise by picking a little-known striker, 22-year-old David Odonkor, who has never played for the German team and scored just one goal for his club Borussia Dortmund last season.

Klinsmann, who defied Germany's football establishment in April by refusing to pick Oliver Kahn as the country's Number 1 goalkeeper, praised Odonkor as a "huge talent."

"He'll bring something that we urgently need: speed, the ability to surprise, the ability to advance right down the wing and hit crosses," Klinsmann, who won the World Cup trophy himself as a striker in 1990, told a news conference in Berlin.

Winning the World Cup a fourth time is "our goal and our dream," Klinsmann said. "We're very happy that things are finally going to start now and we can launch ourselves into the World Cup adventure."

Despite Klinsmann's show of optimism, Germany's faith in its team has waned since it was outclassed by Italy in a humiliating 4-1 defeat on March 1. In fact, German sides haven't beaten any of the world's top soccer teams since its 1-0 victory over England in October 2000.

Klinsmann's boys have failed to impress since they delivered a solid performance in last summer's Confederations Cup, a small international tournament seen as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup.

While commentators are predicting Germany will make it through a relatively easy first round where it faces Costa Rica, Poland and Ecuador in its group, they are far less confident the team will advance far in the subsequent knock-out stages.

Surprise nominations

Odonkor's appointment came out of the blue for him. "It's still like a dream for me. When I wake up tomorrow I'll hope it wasn't just a dream," said Odonkor. He was born in Germany but is of Ghanaian descent, a fact that didn't escape Ghana's national team coach who approached him in January about playing for Ghana in the World Cup. Odonkor declined. "I regard myself as German," he told Bild newspaper.  

For other players, the dream is over. Klinsmann decided to leave out more established Germany players such as Kevin Kuranyi and Fabian Ernst of FC Schalke 04 and Patrick Owomoyela of Werder Bremen.

In another surprise, he picked Wolfsburg striker Mike Hanke even though he won't be able to play in the first two World Cup matches because he was sent off for a foul in a Confederations Cup match against Mexico last July.

"He goes where it hurts and shows no respect in tackles," said Klinsmann.

The coach also appointed a veteran, 32-year-old defender Jens Nowotny, to beef up Germany's relatively inexperienced defence, which has emerged as a key weakness in recent matches.

-- David Crossland

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