Youssoufa Moukoko, an ‘audacious’ German bet
Teenage striker Youssoufa Moukoko has almost no memories of past Germany greats apart from retired forward Miroslav Klose, but his audacious nature makes him ready for the big stage, Germany captain Manuel Neuer said on Saturday.
Asked which former Germany striker he admired, the 17-year-old Moukoko said he knew only 2014 World Cup winner Miroslav Klose, the alltime record goal-scorer of the competition.
“I was not even born... but Miroslav Klose, I have seen videos from him. The others I was not even there,” the forward, who will turn 18 on Sunday, said.
For his captain, 36-year-old veteran Neuer, the past plays no role at the World Cup in Qatar and Moukoko and fellow teenager Jamal Musiala are already fully integrated despite their young age and raring to go.
“They are audacious but in a positive way,” Neuer said, sitting next to Moukoko. “They dare to do things on the pitch. It is important to bring this audacity in training and when they play so that opponents see it. You can see that Mouki is completely integrated. He dares to speak up; we got to know each other fast and we have a good relationship.”
Germany kick off their World Cup Group E campaign on Wednesday against Japan. Spain and Costa Rica are the other teams in the group.
Moukoko won a surprise call-up this month after having scored six goals in the league for Borussia Dortmund. Germany were short on strikers following pre-tournament injuries to Timo Werner and Lukas Nmecha.
“A forward is there to score goals,” Moukoko said. “I am here because the coach believes I can help the team. I will give it all and enjoy it.”
Neuer ‘ready’ for fine
Neuer is set to defy Fifa’s campaign for captains to wear only official armbands with selected slogans at World Cup games.
“Yes,” he said on Saturday when asked at the Germany training camp about overriding a new Fifa project backed by United Nations agencies.
World Cup rules require that equipment such as captains’ armbands must be authorised and provided by Fifa, but Neuer confirmed he will wear the “One Love” design even if it comes with a fine.
“It’s good that we have the power with other nations in western Europe,” Neuer said.
Fuellkrug fights flu
Another Germany forward, Niclas Fuellkrug, who had a sensational Bundesliga run for Werder Bremen this season, missed his team’s first training on Qatari soil with a flu virus.
“He is not in too bad a state at this moment and we will see hour to hour how it develops,” said team director Oliver Bierhoff.
Written with inputs from Reuters & AP/PTI