Johannesburg - Joachim Loew is already the most successful national team coach in German history, and he could yet add another milestone to his illustrious career on Sunday.
And that is something the Indomitable Lions want to prevent.
Victory for Germany against Cameroon in their Group B clash at the Confederations Cup in Sochi will give Loew his 100th victory as coach of the 2014 World Cup winners.
Equal on points
Loew downplayed the importance of the potential milestone: “I know there will be 100 victories, whether now or in the future does not make so much difference, and I would much rather be waiting for a hundredth win than a hundredth defeat!”
A win for Germany will eliminate the African champions from the competition – as will a draw.
Going into Sunday’s match, Chile and Germany lead the group on four points, while Cameroon and Australia have one point ahead of their final game.
Unlike most other international competitions, the head-to-head results only kick in if teams are equal on points, goal difference and goals scored.
Cameroon need to beat Germany with a two-goal margin to advance – unless Australia secure an unlikely big-margin victory against Chile.
Although a win against Germany is a tall order for any country, Cameroon coach Hugo Broos will take some comfort from the fact that his side outplayed the Socceroos for much of their 1-1 draw on Thursday, and should really have won the game.
Porto’s Vincent Aboubakar missed a number of scoring opportunities for Cameroon, who qualified for the Confederations Cup after winning the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon earlier this year.
Broos said they were struggling to score goals, but added that he did see progress.
“A year ago, we didn’t even have a team. Today, you have a team that won the Africa Cup of Nations – and that’s progress.
“You should not think that winning the Africa Cup of Nations means that you can win the Confederations Cup, and next year the World Cup. That’s not how it works. Let this team grow; let it get some experience. If I can find someone who scores goals with his eyes closed tomorrow, he’ll be in my team.”
On the B side
That is a problem that Loew does not have, even though he arrived in Russia with little more than a B side. The side included six uncapped players and only two players with more than 20 caps.
Germany began with a 3-2 victory against Australia, before drawing 1-1 with Chile. Thursday’s game against the South Americans was the first time since taking over Germany that Loew did not make any substitutions.
“I felt the players were in control of the situation and did not lack stamina in the second half,” said the coach, who was in charge of Fenerbahçe when the late John “Shoes” Moshoeu captained the Turkish club.
Loew dismissed speculation that Germany could play for a draw, though that would be enough to see them go through to the next round.
“We want to win this group. We play for a victory in each match and that will be our goal against Cameroon. If we manage to win the group, we will not have to travel.
“Before committing to a team, I will have to see in which condition the individual players are, but it is quite likely that we will make one or two changes. Some players will benefit if they have a bit of a break after two games within a few days, and possibly our game will also benefit by introducing some new blood.”
Liverpool’s Emre Can and rookie Lars Stindl were the outstanding players for Germany against a strong Chile side, with Stindl grabbing his second goal of the tournament.
Loew can also count on Julian Draxler, who has found his form again after a big-money transfer to Paris Saint-Germain from Wolfsburg in the winter transfer window, and is captaining the side at the Confederations Cup.
“I am very satisfied with Julian, also off the pitch. He can handle the responsibility.”
Draxler is the youngest Germany captain and is now the second-youngest to coach Germany at the final of a competition. Only Max Breunig was younger – by 42 days – when he led Germany at the 1912 Olympics.
“I know what is to be done. But I am also not one who will now speak for 15 minutes in the change rooms. I try to show my worth on the field,” the midfielder said.