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Bayern Munich ready to party as Kahn and Hitzfeld bow out – (SN)

SoccerNews in Bundesliga 17 May 2008


When the German season concludes on Saturday, Bayern Munich's stalwarts Oliver Kahn and Ottmar Hitzfeld will take their Bundesliga bows.

Bayern won the league title a fortnight ago and are back in the Champions League next season with former Germany boss Jurgen Klinsmann taking over as head coach on July 1 when Hitzfeld leaves to coach Switzerland.

Although Bayern are champions with Hansa Rostock and Duisburg relegated to the second division last weekend, there is still a final relegation slot to be decided and places in Europe available.

Nuremberg, the 2007 German Cup winners, must beat third-placed Schalke 04 to survive and hope Arminia Bielefeld lose at VfB Stuttgart.

But Stuttgart will be fighting hard as they are level with Bayer Leverkusen, Hamburg and Wolfsburg who are all competing for the two UEFA Cup places.

Leverkusen are home to Bremen, while Hamburg, who have former Tottenham Hotspur boss Martin Jol in charge next season, are looking to pick up their second win since March against Karlsruhe following a disastrous run in April.

But there will be a huge party in Munich as soon as the final whistle blows against Hertha Berlin at Munich's Allianz Arena.

Captain Oliver Khan will lift the championship shield for the eighth and final time after 14 seasons with Bayern.

“It'll be a terrific feeling to have the shield again,” said Hitzfeld.

With a testimonial against the full Germany team in September, Kahn has been signed up as a television pundit for next season while Hitzfeld heads to Switzerland.

Kahn won 86 caps for Germany and has more than 550 Bundesliga appearances behind him, while Hitzfeld won the Champions League with Bayern in 2001 and Borussia Dortmund in 1997.

Between them they have won virtually all the titles available in Germany and masterminded Bayern's Champions League win over Valencia in the 2001 final.

This season has been a success after winning the German Cup, the German League Cup and now the Bundesliga title.

The only blip was their 4-0 thrashing at eventual UEFA Cup champions Zenit St Petersburg in Russia, but Khan says he is happy to bow out now.

“There comes a point when you are just happy that it is over,” he said.

“What more can I ask for than to end my career with three titles in one season?” Kahn added.

“Some footballers are not fortunate enough to end their career in such a way.”

During the last of his 20 seasons in the Bundesliga, having also played for Karlsuhe, Kahn helped Munich's defence become as miserly as possible.

If they leak less that two goals against Hertha they will set a new record for the lowest number of league goals conceeded in a season.

They are on 20 – two short of the current 22 goal record set by Werder Bremen in 1988.

And on Sunday, Hitzfeld and Kahn jet off with the squad to Asia for a promotional tour.

One thing is for sure, both reserve goalkeeper Michael Rensing and new coach Klinsmann will have big boots to fill when the next season starts in August.


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