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Germany coach Rudi Völler admitted he will consider offering his resignation to the German Football Association (DFB) following the defeat by the Czech Republic that saw his team eliminated from UEFA EURO 2004™.
With the Netherlands beating Latvia 3-0 in the evening's other Group D game in Braga, only a victory would have been good enough for Germany to qualify for the quarter-finals. That seemed on the cards when Michael Ballack opened the scoring with a stunning volley in the 21st minute, but the Czech Republic, fielding a below-strength team, came back to seal victory with goals from Marek Heinz and Milan Baroš.
A disappointed Völler said: "I have a contract until 2006, but I am realistic and I know that after such an elimination a public debate will inevitably follow. I have prepared for a possible resignation. I will meet the DFB president and the general secretary to analyse what happened, but all options are possible."
Germany squandered a series of chances to re-take the lead in the second half before they were pegged back by Baroš's breakaway strike 13 minutes from time, and Völler said: "We had the great chance to win and to go through, but it didn't work because we were too profligate in front of goal. The team have given their best - they were excellent in qualifying and in the finals. We just had too much catching up to do in the last two years."
Ballack was also left ruing Germany's missed chances. "The problem is there for all to see," he said. "We are simply not scoring. We're playing some good football but then not hitting the target." The FC Bayern München playmaker was nonetheless keen to put a positive slant on the evening, saying: "We have to look forward and work even harder. I don't think anyone can criticise us because we have given our best. I'm sure that we have had worse games in the past couple of years."
'Took it seriously'
Czech Republic coach Karel Brückner was delighted to see his side maintain their 100 per cent record, and claimed the result justified his decision to rest most of his first-choice team. "The fact of the matter is that it worked," he said. "Yes, I played a reserve team, but all of the players I picked are Czech internationals and, like every game we play, we took it seriously."
Brückner is now setting his sights on Sunday's quarter-final with Denmark. "I want to thank my players for the work they have done," he said. "But as I am also a big workaholic, I am already concentrating on our next match already."
AFC Ajax midfield player Tomáš Galásek - one of the few regulars to start, although he was replaced at half-time - is confident that his side can sustain their good form. "We played to win tonight and we took our chances," he said. "Our motivation could not have been higher and we have a great team spirit. I am confident that we will go further than the quarter-finals."
Heinz was one player who took advantage of Brückner's rotation policy, drawing his side level with an exquisite free-kick on the half hour and also laying on the winner for Baroš. After picking up the Carlsberg Man of the Match award, the FC Baník Ostrava forward said: "I'm really not a dead-ball specialist. I don't remember the last time I scored a goal like that - maybe when I played in the youth team! My team-mates persuaded me to have a go."
'Easy to score'
Baroš, who was used as a second-half substitute added: "I was glad to get on. For the goal I was lucky because the ball bounced back to me from Oliver Kahn and it was easy to score."
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