South Africa (Reuters) – Germany must not be affected by the presence of Ghana’s Kevin-Prince Boateng — the man who ended Michael Ballack’s World Cup before it began — when the sides meet for a spot in the last 16 next week, said manager Oliver Bierhoff on Sunday.
Boateng, whose half-brother Jerome is in the Germany squad, was responsible for dashing captain Ballack’s World Cup hopes when his tackle during the English FA Cup final in May ruled the 33-year-old out of the tournament with an ankle injury.
“I do not think it would be right for us to use our emotions or feelings and channel them against a single person,” Bierhoff said.
“Quite irrespective of who is on the pitch for Ghana, we have to concentrate on the game and avoid being provoked, because we will not be playing against Kevin-Prince Boateng, but against Ghana,” he said.
Germany must win to guarantee they advance to the next round, with Ghana currently top of Group D on four points after their 1-1 draw against Australia. Germany are on three points after losing to Serbia, who also have three points.
“It goes without saying that we will approach the game in the absolutely undisputed fair play manner and mindset because personalities are one thing and teams are another,” Bierhoff said.
Berlin-born Boateng, who had played for Germany’s youth teams before opting to compete for Ghana just before the tournament, apologized days after the incident and said he never intended to hurt Ballack.
Germany’s Jerome Boateng criticized his half-brother for not apologizing straight away and said he had broken off any contact with him after arriving in South Africa.
Germany fans quickly declared Kevin-Prince as their ‘public enemy number one’, setting up hundreds of internet chatrooms to vent their anger.
The Boateng brothers’ Ghanaian father, however, launched a scathing attack on German media for painting what he said was a negative image of his son, overlooking far more cruel fouls made by other German players in the past.
“Obviously we would like to have Michael here (to play). But one player alone cannot decide a game,” Bierhoff said.
“These players are used to handling pressure, whether for their clubs or for Germany, and they can handle it,” Bierhoff said.
(Editing by Jon Bramley)