Germany have appeared at every FIFA U-20 Woman’s World Cup and lifted the title in 2004 and 2010. Here in Canada, the European side have reached the final of the tournament for the third time in a row, where they will face Nigeria, opponents very familiar to coach Maren Meinert.
Capped 92 times for her country and a World Cup winner in 2003, Meinert was at the helm four years ago when Germany beat the Super Falconets 2-0 in Bielefeld to lift the U-20 trophy.
Before Sunday's showdown in Montreal, Meinert took time out to speak to FIFA.com.
FIFA.com: Ms Meinert, in this tournament you have played against teams from a wide variety of confederations. What kind of game are you expecting on Sunday?A physical one. We know that they’re athletic and have unbelievably quick players. It’ll come down to us staying true to our style, focusing on working as a team and not too much on moments of individualism.
You already mentioned that Nigeria have some very quick players. What do you think are their other strengths?
They defend very well and counter-attack quickly. They can change positions without losing an overview of the game. That’s not an ability many teams have. In addition they’re very secure in defence and, as such, are very tough to beat.
How are you preparing your team for the match?
Recuperation is the most important thing at the moment. We’ve played a long tournament and not used many substitutes. The [first-choice] players have already gone through a lot. On Friday, we spent our last training session before the final one in the stadium fine-tuning our preparations for the game against Nigeria.
Four years ago you also played Nigeria in the final. What was special about the World Cup in 2010 and how would you compared the team here in Canada?
There are many similarities. In 2010, we had a team which really enjoyed playing a tournament in their own country. The team at that time was very offensive, had a great spirit and really embraced the event. And it's the same this time. Before the World Cup we had problems - real problems - but when we got here we acted as a unit and have faced everything in the way I had imagined.
What’s your assessment of your team’s performances so far?
I’m extremely satisfied. I think we’re having a great tournament. Especially when you look at our path through the competition. In the USA, China, Brazil, hosts Canada and France, who might be the best team in the world at the moment, we’ve played some great teams. Nigeria are another.
What's the best moment of the tournament for you so far?
There have been many. But scoring a little unexpectedly against France just before the final whistle; well, that was special. You could see that in the reaction of the players. People were besides themselves with joy, so I suppose that’s got to be the highlight so far.
In the semi-final, Meike Kamper performed brilliantly, keeping France at bay on numerous occasions. How do you see the development of the level of goalkeeping in women’s football?
We’ve already seen that goalkeepers have massively improved in the women’s game. You can see that in various ways. There are less shots from distance going in and play down the flanks also seems to have improved. You can see the same development in the juniors. It’s also noticeable that they’re all good on the ball. This wasn’t the case before. We've seen great progress in this area.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup is already looming on the horizon and one or two players from your squad may well end up appearing there. Do you decide together with Silvia Neid who might be considered?The senior coach watches all our games and was also there during the preparation phase. She knows the players very well and is always open to ideas. Of course I know the players better. She looks out for what she likes and I give a little input. This process extends over the whole year. Over the last year, Silvia has given a lot of young players a chance, which is good for us. If you look at our team from the UEFA Women’s EURO 2013 it was extremely young. Now I hope that one or two players from this team in Canada will succeed in stepping up to the next level.