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Germany coach Hansi Flick fired after 4-1 loss to Japan

WOLFSBURG – Germany have fired coach Hansi Flick, the German football association (DFB) announced on Sunday, a day after a humiliating 4-1 loss to Japan at home and just nine months out from hosting Euro 2024.

The former Bayern Munich boss became the first and only Germany coach to be sacked since the position was created in 1926.

DFB sporting director Rudi Voller, who coached the side to a 2002 World Cup final against Brazil, will take over on an interim basis.

A member of Germany’s 1990 World Cup-winning squad, Voller’s immediate task will be a home friendly against 2022 World Cup finalists France on Tuesday.

German media outlet Bild reported that the hot favourite to take over as permanent coach is Julian Nagelsmann. The 36-year-old had succeeded Flick at Bayern in 2021 before making way for Thomas Tuchel earlier in 2023.

In a statement, DFB president Bernd Neuendorf said sacking Flick was “one of the most difficult decisions” he has had to make, adding that “the German national team need a fresh impetus after the recent disappointing results”.

“Going into the European Championship next summer, we need confidence… in the country regarding our team,” he said.

Flick paid the price for his poor record, with only four wins in the last 17 matches in charge. They had also crashed out of the 2022 Qatar World Cup at the group stage.

Flick refused to step down after Saturday’s humiliation at the hands of Japan, saying: “I find that we’re doing well and I’m the right manager.” On Sunday, the 58-year-old told fans “I’ll keep fighting” while signing autographs at a training session.

Japan opened accounts after just 11 minutes at Wolfsburg’s Volkswagen Arena when Junya Ito silenced the home crowd with their first real chance by turning in a low cross at the far post. The hosts bounced back, levelling in the 19th following a superb passing move and a left-footed finish from Leroy Sane.

But their joy was short-lived as the visitors struck again just three minutes later, with forward Ayase Ueda wrong-footing goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen after another move down the right wing. Takuma Asano and Ao Tanaka added gloss with late goals.

“I am very disappointed and we have to admit that Japan have a very good team,” Flick said.

“We don’t have the means to beat such a compact defence.”

“We started well. But they score with their first chance, we come back and level and we felt the support, but then they score again. The second half there were too many individual mistakes.”

Germany captain Ilkay Gundogan added: “We have to admit that we are just not on the same level with teams like the one today. It is hard but the trend speaks for itself… Maybe we even think we are better than we are.”

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Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu, however, felt the 2014 World Cup winners were “still among the top teams” despite the loss. He credited Germany for improving Japanese football as some of his players, such as captain Wataru Endo, have gained experience from their time in the Bundesliga.

He said: “There are always good times and bad times… we are in the middle of a good period.

“I want to make it clear, we have had lots of support from Germany and German coaches… many players have learnt a lot during their time in the Bundesliga.”

On his own side, he said they “still need to improve” before the Jan 12-Feb 11 Asian Cup in 2024, noting: “We need to be more compact. Everyone must defend, everyone needs to attack. We need to react dynamically.” REUTERS, AFP

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