DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - Germany want to treat their departing coach Joachim Loew to a triumphant farewell when he steps down after Euro 2020, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said on Tuesday ahead of their opening 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
The Germans host Iceland on Thursday and visit Romania on Sunday before a home game against North Macedonia on March 31 and Neuer said only a perfect start to the campaign would do.
"We all have to push ourselves, and that includes the players and staff," the Bayern Munich keeper told a news conference ahead of a national team training session.
"We are looking forward to the next three games and the Euros this year. We have plenty to look forward to and we want to do our jobs as successfully as possible."
Earlier this month, Loew said he would bow out after Euro 2020, with the 24-nation event pushed back a year to June 11-July 11 2021 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, following his 15-year stint in charge.
The highlight of his reign was winning the 2014 World Cup but his team crashed out of the first round at the 2018 finals and have struggled to perform at their best in recent years.
A 6-0 defeat by Spain in the Nations League in November piled pressure on the current longest-serving coach in international football, but Neuer believes 61-year old Loew deserved a red-carpet exit from the job.
"I think that he has earned the right to go out on a high," said Neuer. "I’ve been here since 2009. Soon I’ll be 35 years old and I have gone through plenty of ups and downs with him.
"It’s noticeable how motivated and ambitious he is because the end to his time as coach is important to him and that’s a good sign for our upcoming games over the next few days and next summer."
Germany have been drawn in the toughest Euro 2020 group alongside holders Portugal, world champions France and Hungary and Neuer said the start of the World Cup qualifying campaign constituted an ideal warm-up.
"We had a quick team meeting and are focused on these three games which are really important for helping us gel ahead of the Euros," he said.
"It will be important to take advantage of every training session and every game. We can’t allow any more mistakes."
The bad news for Germany ahead of their campaign is that midfielder Toni Kroos had to pull out with a muscle injury and will return to his club Real Madrid from the national team's training camp in Dusseldorf.
"Toni underwent a thorough check-up from our medical staff and treatment. He would have preferred to stay with us, and I hate to have to see him go," said Loew.
"However, with an eye on this summer’s (Euros) we’ve decided that it's more important that he recovers fully first."
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ken Ferris)