Soccer: Euro failure no longer on Germany's minds - Loew
BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's summer of soccer failure will not be preying on their minds as they kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign on Friday, coach Joachim Loew has promised.
The Germans have been given a gentle start, with a home match against the Faroe Islands in Hanover, but even so are likely to be jittery after a traumatic four months.
After Friday it gets more difficult, with a trip to neighbors Austria on Tuesday.
"The players have put their disappointments behind them and there is real hunger for success," Loew said. "That goes for the coaching staff as well."
Germany's troubles began when Bayern Munich lost the Champions League final to Chelsea in their own Allianz Arena, going down on penalties after dominating the game.
The national side then lost to Italy in the Euro 2012 semi-finals, continuing a run of near misses that include second place at the 2002 World Cup, third in 2006, third in 2010, and runners-up at Euro 2008.
Loew's team was also outclassed by a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina, losing 3-1 at home in a friendly in August.
Germany won all 10 games on their way to Euro 2012 but Loew has warned that a group also containing Sweden, Austria and Ireland, and involving a long trip to Kazakhstan, could pose more difficulties.
"We completed the last qualifies in a rousing manner," Loew said. "This time it will be more difficult, the group is very even. There won't be any pushovers.
"We have to improve when we don't have the ball. I place value on the way we develop going forward, but we must be more active off the ball and make sure we don't give our opponents any time."
Loew said that not even the Faroe Islands, who have 12 of their 19-man squad based locally, would be easy.
"The Faroes have only lost recently by narrow margins, one-or two-goal margins. Italy only beat them by a goal," he said. "They are certainly not cannon-fodder."
Germany are missing striker Mario Gomez, who is recovering from an ankle operation, and Bastian Schweinsteiger, who is not match fit.
(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne, editing by Stephen Wood)