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'Not fair play' - Pauw criticises German manager's declaration of squad rotation plan

German boss Martina Voss-Tecklenburg has said four of her key players won’t play in next week’s qualifier with Montenegro.

Vera Pauw.
Vera Pauw.
Image: Filip Filipovic/INPHO

IRELAND MANAGER VERA Pauw has criticised Germany’s decision to publicly declare their intention to rest several key players for a Euro 2022 qualifier Montenegro, taking place three days after Saturday’s clash with Ireland. 

At the announcement of her 24-player squad, Germany manager Martina Voss-Tecklenburg said Alexandra Popp, Svenja Huth, Kathrin Hendrich and Sara Däbritz – all of whom were in involved in the delayed Champions League knockout stages – would be involved in the top-of-the-table clash with Ireland, but not against Montenegro. 

Pauw’s issue is not that the German manager is planning to rest players against Montenegro, but that she publicly announced her intention. 

“The top players will not travel to Montenegro, which in my opinion is not fair play”, says Pauw. “Because it’s false competition. But they have the right to do that, of course, Martina can choose the players she wants. But announcing it already, before the Ireland game, I don’t think that that is right.

“It doesn’t have influence on our preparation. It will have an influence on the game because those players only have to play one game and then they’re off, so they will put in hundred percent energy, even if the score line is not going well for us. They will keep going because they’re still in the game so they will not take their foot off the gas. And that is why I don’t think it’s right.” 

Pauw says Germany’s decision can serve as a source of motivation for the Irish players. 

“Probably, because they rate us higher than Montenegro and that is good. They see us also to develop their squad, and the pressure that we give. So, yeah, it does motivate players I think, but we haven’t discussed that with them.” 

Ireland lead Germany in Group I by a point, but have played a game more. Germany are ranked second in the world – Pauw sees them as the best side on the planet, on current form – and their form in the group so far is forbidding: four games played, four wins, 31 goals scored, none conceded. 

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“We have to expect that this will be very, very difficult game for us”, says Pauw, “and we will do everything we can to stop them from playing with their variety, if we are capable of it, because we are ranked 32 where they are ranked two and are at this moment better than USA, in my opinion.

“So we have to be very realistic and even though we don’t plan to defend a lot because we plan to play an open game, we know it will be pushed back.

“We are preparing to get the best out of us to give Germany the best game ever. And then we’ll see if that is good enough to get a result. It would not be realistic to, to say like, we go on to win, or we go on to draw. The game itself will show how far we are, and we will be prepared the best way we can. And with all our energy all our power and the players will be ready. And that is why I say I think that you will be proud of them whatever the result.”

The full Irish squad trained together for the first time together, and Pauw is glad for the squad to be reunited at the other end of a turbulent six months. 

“[Assistant] Eileen Gleeson texted me the night before she flew out – I was already here – to say it feels like Christmas Eve. And that is how we all feel, and it’s great to be together again. It’s great to smell the grass and to be on the grass. I’m pleasantly surprised with how they how they come in with their open minds and their smiles and very powerful and, Yeah, fantastic to be together again after six months. It’s been difficult.”

There have been a few Covid complications for Ireland. Their regular medical staff could not secure a quarantine exemption upon return from Germany, and so didn’t travel. Instead, Pauw has drafted in a doctor who works with Ajax and a physio who works with the Dutch FA. 

Ireland are very much at the business end of their qualification group, with a trip to Ukraine to follow Saturday’s clash, with the group wrapping up with a home tie with Germany. 

The top side in the group qualifies automatically for the European Championships in England, and will be joined by the three best-placed runners-up. A scrap for three remaining places through the play-offs await the next six runners-up. 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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