Kahn critical of English 'keepers

  • By: Thahir Asmal, Press Association Sport, Johannesburg
  • Last Updated: June 25 2010, 15:22 BST

Former Germany stopper Oliver Kahn has criticised the English game for failing to develop "world-class goalkeepers".

Kahn - not impressed with English 'keepers.

David James, Robert Green and Joe Hart are England's three goalkeepers in South Africa.

But Kahn, who made 86 appearances between the posts for Germany, believes Premier League clubs are failing to nurture home-grown talent.

Kahn's comments come after his country's former captain and manager Franz Beckenbauer described England as a "long-ball" team and said they look "burned out".

The number one position was an area of concern for England coach Fabio Capello when his side arrived at the World Cup.

Green made a blunder in the opening match of the tournament, allowing a long-range strike from the United States' Clint Dempsey to slip through his hands.

He was replaced by James, who has looked assured and has kept two clean sheets in the remaining group games against Algeria and Slovenia.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's last-16 meeting between England and Germany in Bloemfontein, Kahn said: "England has a great tradition of great goalkeepers in its football history with Peter Shilton, David Seaman and Gordon Banks.

"The question why no world-class goalkeepers have developed remains.

"Bayern Munich, for example, has a policy that Germany's number one goalkeeper needs to be in their goal and I think in England we see a situation where many goalkeeping positions are filled with foreign goalkeepers, which makes it very difficult to develop an English goalkeeper.

"If we look at the various clubs - Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea - we see that the position is filled by a foreign goalkeeper.

"This makes it very difficult to develop an English goalkeeper that can develop into a number one world-class goalkeeper."

Green's error in the USA match cost England two crucial points and ultimately meant Capello's side finished second rather than first in Group C.

As pool winners, the Americans face Ghana in the last 16 on Saturday before England take on old rivals Germany in the second round a day later.

Former Germany star Kahn, who was the number one for his country at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, does not know which way the game will go.

He said: "England versus Germany is a traditional classical duel - a huge battle.

"The English are a very experienced side with many top stars.

"On the German side, there are many young players - some of whom are quite inexperienced - but they do play a lovely game of combination football, which is actually not quite typical of German football.

"As for the result, we will have to see."

Much has been made about the Jabulani ball in South Africa, but the former Bayern Munich goalkeeper feels players should not be blaming the ball for their errors.

Kahn added: "The balls have changed over the last couple of years, so yes they have become a lot faster. In addition, in Johannesburg we are playing at altitude, which makes the ball even quicker and the goalkeeper's task even harder.

"But I don't think we can take these things as an excuse for the goalkeeping errors we have seen - not the only excuse at least. It is also a question of quality.

"Sepp Maier, my goalkeeping coach, once said to me, 'if the balls become more difficult, then you'll have to train harder until you can work with those balls'."

Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech echoed those sentiments, saying: "I played with the ball for Czech Republic against Turkey and I found the ball fine.

"There was no problem. Of course, everybody has their own opinions.

"You see during a normal season similar mistakes, but you don't blame the ball then.

"Suddenly we come to a big event and when there is a mistake, someone loses the ball or loses his concentration and everybody looks to the ball. I don't think it is the right attitude.

"The ball is the same for everyone. It depends on many things - like the weather, the way the ball is kicked, the part of the pitch it bounces on and many more reasons. My experience has been positive."