Last battle for Coach Neid

Germany’s coach Silvia Neid (left) runs to embrace midfielder Lena Goessling (centre) after their 4-1 defeat of Sweden at the FIFA Women’s World Cup round of 16.                                                        PHOTO: AFP

Germany’s coach Silvia Neid (left) runs to embrace midfielder Lena Goessling (centre) after their 4-1 defeat of Sweden at the FIFA Women’s World Cup round of 16. PHOTO: AFP

Gowon CanadaEight years ago in China, Coach Silvia Neid of Germany, made a vow in an interview with The Guardian before their epic final against Brazil. She said then that she would do everything possible to set an enviable record, which many male coaches will find difficult to surpass in years to come.

The China 2007 edition of the World Cup was the first for Neid as coach of Germany, after her blossom career as player, during which, she won 111 caps and scored 48 goals for her country’s senior team. She played alongside such Super Falcons as Florence Omagbemi, Nkeiru Okosieme, Marvis Ogun, Omo-Love Branch, Rita Nwadike, Ngozi Ezeocha, Uche Eucharia and Ann Chiejine at China 91 World Cup, Sweden ‘95 and USA ‘99.

Neid become the most sought-after women coach at the end of the 2007 World Cup, after leading the Germans to beat the dreaded Samba girls (Brazil) in the final in China’s former capital city, Shanghai.

With the performance in China 2007, Neid became the first German national coach (men’s and women’s team) to win the World Cup at first attempt. She was the team’s assistant coach from 1996 to 2005, and the head coach of the German U-19 team that won the 2004 U-19 Women’s World Championship.

Neid went on to pick a bronze medal, the third for Germany, at her first Summer Olympics as a coach at Beijing 2008. She then led Germany to win her seventh European Championship in 2009. But she had a bad experience four years ago, when Germany hosted the championship, as she failed to lead the country to the semi-final.

Neid has qualified Germany for the Rio 2016 Olympics Games, but she will retire at the end of this season, irrespective of her performance in the on-going World Cup. Another coach, Steffi Jones, will have to take Germany to the Olympics Games next year.

Last Friday, Neid had one of her toughest challenges in the World Cup, when the Germans came from a goal down to overcome hard-fighting France 5-4 on penalty in their quarterfinal game here in Montreal.

The French team, led by a male tactician, Coach Philippe Bergeroo, gave Neid and her girls the biggest scare of their careers. The Germans, ranked number one, were on the brink for much of the first 90 minutes, but goalkeeper Nadine Angerer’s save of 21-year-old Claire Lavogez’s penalty during the shootout, saw Germany emerge triumphant and remain in Montreal for tomorrow’ semifinal against another old timer, USA, who defeated China 1-0 in their quarterfinal encounter.

For many spectators at the Olympics Stadium in Montreal on Friday night, the game between Germany and France will go down in Women World Cup history as one of the most memorable matches ever. It had it all, though it was not the final .
France, who defeated the Super Falcons of Nigeria in their group game four years ago in Germany, showed no fear, as they attacked the Germans from start to finish.

Louisa Necib scored for France in the 64th minute, before Celia Sasic came to Coach Neid’s rescue and at the same time, preserved Germany’s perfect record from the spot (12-for-12) in World Cup play. Sasic later converted Germany’s winning spot kick in the shootout before Lavogez’s effort was saved by the German keeper.

As German players and their fans celebrated their victory against France last Friday, Coach Neid told The Guardian through an interpreter that she would try every means to end her last World Cup on a perfect note.

“I will savour this moment for a long time to come,” she said. “At a point, I thought we were going out, but we kept fighting on. I am glad we got the semifinal ticket. Let’s wait and see what happens on Tuesday.”

The top-ranked Germans finished first in Group B, before beating Sweden in the round of 16 on their way to the quarterfinal.
Germany first won the Women’s World Cup in 2003, when the championship was hosted for the second time in USA.

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