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World Cup qualifying

Bayern ten on international duty

Three stars missed Tuesday evening’s farewell match for Oliver Kahn, and seven more were absent from the Säbener Strasse by Wednesday morning: ten Bayern first-team men are away representing their countries in the course of the next week.

As usual, the largest single contingent will appear for Germany. Miroslav Klose, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm and Lukas Podolski travel to Liechtenstein on Saturday 6 September when the Germans open their Group 4 qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. A second qualifier takes place four days later against Finalnd in Helsinki on 10 September.

Aiming for top spot

“We have to do well in both matches,” declared Schweinsteiger, “we have the quality and the hunger you need. I’m expecting us to win both games.“ The nine group winners in European qualifying proceed directly to the finals, with the eight best runners-up going into play-offs for four further berths.

Over in Group 8, Luca Toni and Italy share the Germans’ aspirations of finishing top. The World Cup holders open away to Cyprus, before entertaining Georgia in Udine. In Group 5, Daniel van Buyten and his Belgian team-mates take on Estonia in Liege, before the Red Devils travel to Istanbul for a crunch meeting with Turkey. Hamit Altintop misses the match with injury, and Franck Ribery is also unavailable to France.

Single qualifier for Van Bommel

Mark van Bommel is set for a competitive comeback in a Netherlands shirt when the Dutch face Macedonia. The men in orange warm up for the game in Skopje with a friendly against Australia in Eindhoven.

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