'Fearless' Germans up to the task

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:46 PM ET

CAPE TOWN - "Fearless."

That's the one word German manager Joachim Loew uses when asked to describe his Kiddy Corps, the one that has helped the team sail into Wednesday's semifinal of South Africa 2010 in Durban.

That has never been more evident than in the team's past three games.

In their final game of the group stage, the Germans needed a win or they would likely be going home. Up stepped Mezut Ozil, 21, whose second-half rocket proved to be the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Ghana.

Next up were the English, a rivalry that started decades before Germany's youngsters were even born. No matter. Mueller, 20, would score twice in the second half to lead the Germans to a convincing 4-1 win over Steven Gerrard and his teammates.

Finally came a quarterfinal date with the previously unbeaten Argentines.

Mueller's goal in the third minute set the tone for the game, giving the Germans a 1-0 lead and putting Team Maradona immediately behind the eight-ball en route to a 4-0 victory.

Sami Khedira, 23, helped throw a defensive blanket over Argentina's Lionel Messi, the world's best player.

Meanwhile, goalie Manuel Neuer, 24, has allowed just two goals in five games -- three if you count the Frank Lampard over-the-goalline shot that was not counted.

Here's a quick look at Germany's young guns.

Mezut Ozil, midfielder: age 21 ... Is drawing a lot of interest from Manchester City and Arsenal ... Has one goal in five World Cup games ... Could have played for Turkey since his family is from there, but opted for Germany.

Thomas Mueller, midfielder/forward: age 20 ... Has scored four goals in five games at South Africa 2010 ... His two goals versus England made him the youngest player to score a pair of goals in a World Cup knockout game since Pele ... Will miss semifinal versus Spain on Wednesday because of suspension.

Sami Khedira, midfielder: age 23 ... Has thrived since earning starting spot earlier this year ... Has assumed bigger role in midfield since captain Michael Ballack was lost for the tournament with an ankle injury suffered in the FA Cup final ... Has played a significant role in shutting down England's Steven Gerrard and Argentina's Lionel Messi in past two games.

Manuel Neuer, goalkeeper: age 24 ... Has allowed just two goals in five World Cup games ... Has succeeded his idol, Jens Lehmann, as national team goalkeeper ... A year ago, he was the team's third stringer ... Moved up a spot when starter Robert Enke committed suicide in 2009 ... Assumed No. 1 job when René Adler subsequently suffered a serious rib injury which ruled out of the World Cup.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca


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