Football

Germany coach Loew extends contract to Euro 2016

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Germany coach Joachim Loew thinks his team will play a major role at next year's World Cup, although it would be "disrespectful" to single it out as the favorite without mentioning others such as Spain and Brazil.

Loew spoke on Friday after extending his contract past the World Cup by another two years. The German Football Federation (DFB) said the new contract runs through the 2016 European Championship in France.

"I feel great motivation to develop the team further. We are still not at the end of our road, we still have great goals that we want to achieve together," Loew said. The DFB wanted an early extension to avoid any distractions during the tournament in Brazil. DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach said the extension was a sign of "excellent cooperation" between the federation and Loew.

Loew has been head coach since 2006, when Jurgen Klinsmann stepped down following a third-place finish at the World Cup in Germany. Loew had been Klinsmann's assistant for two years. Loew will celebrate his 100th match in charge against Italy in Milan on Nov. 15.

Loew's record is 68 wins, 16 draws and 15 losses. But Germany has yet to win a major title under Loew, finishing second at the 2008 European Championship and reaching the semifinals at the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 despite playing some of the best football.

Loew's reputation took a blow when Germany lost to Italy in the semifinals of last year's European Championship. The loss was mainly blamed on his wrong tactical decisions. Germany had the best qualifying record in Europe and is ranked No. 2 in the world by FIFA. Germany will be seeded for next month's World Cup draw.

"We have a very good team, we will be well prepared and I am sure we will play a good tournament, but it's too early now to talk about what would be a successful campaign and what not," Loew said. He said it would be "disrespectful" to ignore others teams — "Spain has won the last three major titles, Brazil is playing at home, other teams have a lot of quality, details can be decisive."

"But we will be going into the tournament with a very positive attitude and I can guarantee that we have a very hungry team. We'll be aiming for the biggest prize but we also have a very young team." Although Germany scored the most goals in qualifying (36), it also displayed weaknesses in defense, such as when it blew a 4-0 lead to settle for a 4-4 draw against Sweden at home, the only blemish on its qualifying record. It also fell behind 2-0 in Sweden before rallying for a 5-3 win.

"Of course we are a favorite but at the end a shot could bounce off the post, you could have a player sent off stupidly ... there are no guarantees," Niersbach said. The DFB prematurely announced an agreement with Loew ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa under Niersbach's predecessor, Theo Zwnaziger. Months of public arguments and uncertainty followed until Loew finally signed a new deal after the World Cup.

Loew's assistant, Hansi Flick, will become the DFB's new director of sports on Sept. 1 2014. The post has been vacant since Robin Dutt left in May to become coach of Werder Bremen.

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