One of my favourite books, The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, might be inspiring Joachim “Jogi” Low, the German coach, for it is clear that he has been following the ancient strategist’s principles in creating his victories on the Football Field at the 2010 FIFA World Cup .
First, before the tournament even started, there was much talk about how Germany would be hampered and weakened by the absence, due to injury, of their star mid-fielder Michael Ballack.
Sun Tzu says “Military operation involves deception, even though you are competent, appear incompetent, even though Effective, appear ineffective.”
Secondly, The prevailing view before the tournament was that Germany was fielding a young team and merely undergoing a rebuilding phase perhaps
aimed at reaching the quarterfinals this time around but certainly not in contention to win. They were simply giving their young players experience in hopes of winning a future world Cup.
Sun Tzu says, “When you are going to attack nearby, make it look as if you are going a long way, when you are going to attack far away then make it appear as if you are just going a short distance.”
Then before they played England the coach of Germany went to great pains not to insult the opponents despite the extremely competitive rivalry traditionally shared by the two nations. He heaped praise on England saying they had learnt alot about football by studying the English.
Sun Tzu says “Use humility to make them haughty.” He also says, “A wise general strives to feed off the enemy.”
Finally it must be noted that the game against England featured one of the most effecient attacks I have ever seen in football. The German goalkeeper actually provided the assist for one of Klose’s goals. The goalie simply booted the ball up into the English penalty box like an American football style punt and Klose got on the end of it and slotted it home.
The simplicity, speed and surprising effeciency of this would surely have gained Sun Tzu’s approval for he says, “Conquer others without siege, destroy others’ nations without taking a long time.”
Sun Tzu also says “When you do battle even if you are winning, if you continue for a long time, it will dull your forces and blunt your edge, if you besiege a citadel your strength will be exhausted. If you keep your armies out in the field for a long time your supplies will be insufficient.”
Overconfidence and Arrogance can easily creep in when a team smashes others easily like “hammers smashing eggshells”.
To hoist the World Cup the German team must now be wary of one final hurdle, one team that can beat them. The Germans must beware of, Netherlands and Spain yes, but more so beware of, themselves.
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