Podolski back on familiar hunting ground

PRETORIA - Lukas Podolski promised on Thursday to put his poor club form behind him and return to the scoring exploits that helped Germany reach the World Cup semi-finals four years ago.

Then, the striker was the toast of the town after scoring three goals for the 2006 hosts and winning the young player of the tournament award.

But four years on, Podolski's form is shrouded in mystery.

Following his disappointing three-year tenure at Bayern Munich, he returned to his home club Cologne last year with high hopes but instead managed a meagre two goals.

He has never stopped scoring for Germany, however, with his 38 goals in 73 matches testament of his lethal skills.

"I want to pick up where I left off four years ago," Podolski told reporters after a 90-minute training session near Pretoria on Thursday. "I have had a very good preparation and I want to bring that to the matches."

The 25-year-old striker said he was not thinking about his bad season at Cologne and was only focused on scoring goals for Germany at the June 11-July 11 tournament in South Africa.

"The (Bundesliga) season is over and that is the end of it. In Cologne we played a more defensive game but I feel far more comfortable in the offensive game we play (with Germany) and where things are easier for me by having the best players of the country in the squad."

While some club coaches have hesitated giving the Poland-born left-footer a starting spot, Germany coach Joachim Low has been more benevolent and Podolski has repaid that trust handsomely.

Low himself predicted Podolski was ready to "explode" at this tournament and the striker paid back the compliment on Thursday, saying he hoped Low, who has yet to sign a new contract, would stay on after the World Cup.

With more than a goal every two matches and with fellow striker Miroslav Klose in a slump of form for club and country, a lot will indeed rest on Podolski's pace when they take on their first Group D opponents Australia on Sunday.

"We know that the Australians are a very defensive team and it is up to us to find the gaps. We must come from the wings," he said, adding he himself would most likely start on the left wing.

"There is a certain pressure for this game because we must absolutely make sure we win that first match," he said.

Germany also take on Serbia and Ghana in their group.

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