HAMBURG, Germany (Reuters) – Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will be fit to play in Monday’s 2022 World Cup qualifier against North Macedonia, coach Hansi Flick said on Sunday, with his team a win away from clinching a spot in next year’s tournament.
Neuer missed Friday’s 2-1 victory over Romania with a minor muscle injury but has returned to training.
“I expect that it will work with Manuel for tomorrow,” Flick told reporters before the team’s departure. “I am certain that it will be possible.”
Flick has no other injury concerns with Germany seeking their fifth win in five matches since he took over this year.
“We are on a good path. It is understandable that some things may not work yet 100 percent but we are on the right track,” Flick said.
The four-times world champions, who suffered a shock 2018 World Cup first-round exit and were eliminated in the round of 16 at this year’s European Championship, will secure qualification with two games to spare if they win in Skopje and Armenia drop points against Romania.
Germany top Group J on 18 points, ahead of North Macedonia and Armenia on 12 with three matches remaining.
The North Macedonians, who stunned Germany 2-1 in Duisburg in March, are desperate for a win to maintain their chances of advancing.
“I think the atmosphere in Skopje will be fiery. The (North Macedonian) team will be fully motivated. They want to protect their chances (of qualifying) and with their win in Germany they now have more confidence,” Flick said.
“This team knows how to play football, they have skilled players in the squad. So we have to show our own qualities and that will be decisive.”
“I do not look back at the past,” Flick said when asked about Germany’s loss to North Macedonia, under his predecessor Joachim Loew.
“We want to have our own philosophy on the pitch, to play united, remain active. We want to win and qualify as quickly as possible for the World Cup.”
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond)