German team arrives in South Africa ahead of World Cup
AFP · 7 Jun 2010, 12:00
Published: 07 Jun 2010 12:00 GMT+02:00
The three-time champions landed in the morning at Johannesburg international airport in crisp, clear weather after the first official flight by national airline Lufthansa in the Airbus A380 jumbo.
"It was a great experience to be on the first A380 flight," coach Joachim Löw told reporters as he and his 23-man squad completed immigration details before heading for a hotel near Pretoria.
"We want to show South Africans from the outset that we are happy to be in their country," added manager and former national team striker Oliver Bierhoff.
Germany finished third behind Italy and France when they hosted the tournament four years ago and were runners-up to Brazil in the 2002 finals in South Korea and Japan.
They are traditionally considered title contenders regardless of the state of the national team because of their famed refusal to give up no matter how desperate the situation in a World Cup match.
Hopes of Germany going all the way in the June 11-July 11 tournament however suffered a massive blow last month when midfield conductor and captain Michael Ballack was ruled out after tearing ankle ligaments in the English FA Cup final.
The injury followed a heavy tackle from Germany-born Kevin-Prince Boateng, a member of the Ghana squad that also landed in Johannesburg on Monday and will contest Group D with Germany, Australia and Serbia.
Defender Philipp Lahm has been elevated to Germany captain with Bayern Munich team-mate Bastian Schweinsteiger the new vice-captain of a country that conquered the football world in 1954, 1974 and 1990.
Germany had glamorous company on their flight from Frankfurt in the shape of Shakira, the Colombian megastar who will perform a pre-tournament concert on Thursday at Orlando Stadium in Soweto township. The pop star did however reportedly delay the flight by being late for the takeoff.
Other teams with first-class World Cup pedigree who have already arrived in South Africa are Argentina, England, Netherlands, France and Brazil, with Italy and European champions Spain due later this week.
The World Cup kicks off Friday when South Africa face Mexico at 90,000-seat Soccer City stadium on the Johannesburg outskirts, followed a few hours later by another Group A clash between France and Uruguay in Cape Town.
Germany’s scheduled matches in Group D (local German and South African time):
June 13 against Australia at 8:30 pm
June 18 against Serbia at 1:30 pm
June 23 against Ghana at 8:30 pm