VfB Stuttgart's Brazilian-born forward Kevin Kuranyi today earned his first call-up to the senior German national side as coach Rudi Völler announced a 20-man squad for the UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifier against Lithuania on 29 March.
Völler has left out forwards Oliver Neuville, Carsten Jancker and Gerald Asamoah, who were all part of Germany's FIFA World Cup squad in order to promote 21-year-old Kuranyi, who has previously represented the country at Under-21 level.
'A natural step'
"Kevin has shown great achievement in recent weeks and months," Völler said. "His selection for the German national team squad is therefore a natural step. Oliver Neuville, Carsten Jancker and also Gerald Asamoah are somewhat off form at the present time. But that is just a snapshot of the present moment and could change for the next international match. The door to the national team is not closed to them."
Kuranyi has hit 13 league goals this season and is the highest-scoring German-qualified forward in the 1. Bundesliga. "I am naturally very pleased about it," he said of his inclusion. "Now I will be watched even more and therefore I must work even harder.
I didn't expect to be included and honestly speaking I have to say I didn't know the game was coming up so soon."
Elsewhere in the squad, there are recalls for Liverpool FC's Dietmar Hamann and fellow midfield player Sebastian Kehl, while Hertha BSC Berlin's Marko Rehmer shores up the defence. All three missed the recent 3-1 friendly defeat by Spain with injuries.
There is no place for FC Bayern München midfielder Michael Ballack as he has an ankle injury. Tottenham Hotspur FC defender Christian Ziege (thigh) and Bayer 04 Leverkusen captain Jens Nowotny (knee) have long-term injury problems.
Germany are top of Group 5 with a maximum six points from their first two games against Lithuania and the Faroe Islands, a scrappy 2-1 home victory. After facing Lithuania in Nürnberg on 29 March their next qualifier is away to Scotland on 7 June.
Kahn, Lehmann, Baumann, Friedrich, Metzelder, Rau, Rehmer, Wörns, Böhme, Frings, Hamann, Jeremies, Kehl, Ramelow, Schneider, Bobic, Freier, Klose, Kuranyi, Lauth.
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