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Kahn can't wait to play South Korea this time

© Reuters 2002

By Patrick Vignal

SOGWIPO, South Korea, June 23 (Reuters) - Oliver Kahn was once happy to be left out when Germany faced South Korea but, unfortunately for the World Cup co-hosts, there is no way he will miss Tuesday's semi-final. The Germany captain was a reserve goalkeeper when the triple champions played their only ever game against the opponents now standing in the way of their progress to the Yokohama final.

"I think it's the only time I was glad not to play," the 33-year-old said on Sunday, remembering his side's 3-2 win in the first round of the 1994 World Cup in the United States. "It was in Dallas and the weather conditions were extremely difficult," Kahn said. "It was ever so hot. We led 3-0 and then they scored twice. They were already tough opponents back then."

Kahn, who has matured to become arguably the world's best goalkeeper and his team's natural leader, could share memories of the 1994 match with coach Rudi Voeller, an unused substitute that day. His Bayern Munich team mate Stefan Effenberg would be more reluctant to talk about the game - he was sent home in disgrace after he showed his middle finger to the crowd as he was substituted. But Kahn would rather look forward to Tuesday's clash in Seoul.

"I don't know if it's the most important game in my career because I've had many important games both for the national team and my club," said the Bayern Munich player. "But it could definitely be the nicest."

Kahn has been instrumental in Germany's run to the last four with a string of crucial saves, notably in Friday's 1-0 quarter-final victory over the United States. While the team were slammed by observers and media for their sluggish performance, the goalkeeper won unanimous praise.

"I try not to take too much notice," he said. "The media like to name an outstanding player but I think that's not fair. I'm only a small part of the team. I saw how the guys in the team fought in front of me and it was remarkable."

One of few who had predicted that Germany could have a great World Cup, Kahn could not have missed German all-time great Franz Beckenbauer's comments that their showing against the United States had been "very inadequate."

"There has been some criticism from the media and so-called experts but the people in Germany are celebrating," Kahn said. "It's for them that we play." South Korea, who have displayed plenty of the fighting spirit that is Kahn's trademark, naturally impressed the German goalkeeper.

"They have an incredible collective strength and also several dangerous individuals," he said. "They have knocked out Portugal, Italy and Spain, which says it all. "They will run until they drop and we have to be ready for a marathon. But we will win this match." The co-hosts will be boosted by incredible crowd support but it takes more than that to intimidate Kahn. "I saw all the red tee-shirts and millions of people in the streets, all that passion," he said. "It's emotionally very strong. I can't wait to be in that stadium."

Reports provided by

Thursday, 27 June
Germany are cold and calculating, says Scolari
Wednesday, 26 June
Turkey dejected but happy to be in top four
Ronaldo fires Brazil into World Cup final
Tuesday, 25 June
South Korean dream ended by Germany
Brazil give no clues over Ronaldinho's replacement
Monday, 24 June
Ronaldo plays in practice match
Germany relish unforgettable moment in Seoul
Daredevil Edmilson will not change his style
Sunday, 23 June
Germany's Hamann back in training
Kahn can't wait to play South Korea this time
Saturday, 22 June
Metsu takes his hat off to Senegal heroes
We're as good as anybody, says Turkey match-winner
Friday, 21 June
England in despair as Brazil crush hopes
Beckenbauer says Germany were lucky to beat U.S.
Kahn and Ballack steer Germany into semis

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