VATUTINKI – Germany's Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan should prepare for more whistles and jeers over photographs taken with Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan, coach Joachim Loew said on Wednesday, as the world champions prepare for their title defence.
The two players of Turkish descent have been dealing with a barrage of criticism in Germany after they were pictured with Erdogan in London last month and the affair has overshadowed their run-up to the tournament.
“My job now is to bring both players to top form so that they are well prepared,” Loew told a news conference after Germany's first training session in Russia. “They will possibly be accompanied by some whistles (in the Group F opener against Mexico on Sunday).”
“OK, it is what it is. I cannot influence the whistles. I would have liked it differently but my job is to get them into the flow and help our team.”
The pair were jeered in Germany's warm-up defeat by Austria on June 2 and Gundogan received similar treatment in last week's win over Saudi Arabia. Ozil did not play in that game.