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‘How embarrassing’: Germany suffer first World Cup qualifying loss in 20 years
- Updated: April 1, 2021
DUISBURG, Germany: Germany’s performance was dubbed “embarrassing” after they suffered their first World Cup qualifying defeat for 20 years in a humiliating 2-1 home loss to North Macedonia which heaped pressure on coach Joachim Loew.
“The disappointment is huge,” said a crest-fallen Loew after the final whistle in Duisburg on Wednesday.
“This is a set-back. There were a lot of mistakes and we didn’t find a way to break down the deep-standing North Macedonians.
“We also let them counter-attack and had no grip on the game.”
Napoli midfielder Eljif Elmas scored the winner five minutes from time after Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty had drawn Germany level following 37-year-old striker Goran Pandev’s first-half opener.
The German press were quick to put the boot in.
“How embarrassing!” fumed daily Bild on their website.
“Nasty Surprise” said football magazine Kicker while Frankfurt-based daily FAZ opted for “Rude awakening for the German team”.
The four-time world champions have never failed to qualify for football’s biggest tournament, but did not enter the inaugural edition in 1930 and were banned in 1950.
However, Loew’s men are already languishing third in the Group J table, three points adrift of leaders Armenia and behind North Macedonia on goal difference.
“The fact is, that shouldn’t have been allowed to happen,” admitted stand-in captain Gundogan after Germany’s first World Cup qualifying loss since the infamous 5-1 thrashing by England in 2001.
“It felt as though North Macedonia only got near our goal twice and scored twice – it was too easy.
“We had chances and only scored one goal.
“It hurts all the more that not much will happen for two months,” he added as Germany do not play again until their Euro 2020 warm-up matches in June.
“We have to get in top shape by the end of May and prepare for the (European championship) tournament.”
Germany face world champions France and holders Portugal in their European championship group.
The defeat was just the latest setback suffered by Germany, after their 6-0 drubbing by Spain last November and the shock group-stage exit at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The loss, which ended an 18-match winning streak in World Cup qualifying, will put pressure on Loew, who will step down following the Euro 2020 finals in July after 15 years in charge.
The result will also weigh on struggling Chelsea striker Timo Werner, who squandered a golden chance with the score 1-1 after coming off the bench in the second half.
“I’m sorry for him (Werner),” admitted Gundogan.
The former RB Leipzig striker has now scored only two goals in his last 31 appearances for club and country.