Loew gets 2-year extension as Germany coach

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FRANKFURT, GERMANY (AP) - Germany coach Joachim Loew has agreed to a two-year contract extension and will stay on through the 2012 European Championship in Poland and Ukraine.

Loew led Germany’s young team to a third-place finish at the World Cup in South Africa this month.

“We had very uncomplicated talks,” the 50-year-old Loew said Tuesday at a news conference at the football federation headquarters in Frankfurt. “We are very pleased to continue working with the team, we all had a lot of fun with the team during the World Cup.”

Loew had been out of contract since the end of the tournament. Earlier talks on an extension stalled in February over several issues, including payment.

“Our team has an excellent future and it’s a great challenge now to start preparing for the European Championship after the successful World Cup,” Loew said.

“We are sure that the team can raise its international recognition through modern and attractive football,” Loew said.

Federation president Theo Zwanziger also called the contract extension talks “uncomplicated” and said some “critical points” had been quickly solved.

“We have young talented players who have already shown a lot of class and we have a trainer that fits this team,” Zwanziger said.

Zwanziger, whose relationship with Loew cooled considerably after the collapse of the earlier contract talks, had strongly endorsed the coach during the World Cup, especially after Germany’s emphatic wins over England and Argentina.

Loew declined to be drawn into a discussion about the future captain of the team and did not give a clear endorsement to Michael Ballack, who missed the World Cup because of an ankle injury.

“It’s not the proper time to address this issue,” Loew said.

In Ballack’s absence, Bayern Munich defender Philipp Lahm was the team’s captain for the World Cup and said before the end of the tournament that he wanted to keep the armband.

Ballack has returned to the Bundesliga to sign for Bayer Leverkusen and told reporters last week he still considers himself the captain of the national team.

“Ballack has been a very important and deserving player until now,” Loew said. “It’s important for him now to get over the injury and into a normal training rhythm and start playing again.”

Loew said he had talked to Ballack last week and would do so again before an Aug. 11 exhibition in Denmark.

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