Football

Niko Kovac’s Bayern future safe, after landing domestic double

Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac appears to have avoided the sack after his side secured a domestic double, with victory over RB Leipzig in the German Cup final yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Kovac, 47, has fought off relentless criticism in his first year in charge of Bayern, as well as rumours that he would face the sack even if the club did win the league and cup double.

Yet Bayern's 3-0 cup victory at the Berlin Olympic Stadium appeared to end speculation over the Croat's future, as home fans chanted his name before kick-off and after the final whistle.

"We never questioned whether he would be here next season, that was never a topic for us," Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told ARD after the game, echoing comments he had made at an event in Berlin the day before.

"At the end of the day, trophies are what is expected at Bayern."

Rummenigge, who was considered one of Kovac's strongest boardroom critics this season, said that it had been a "curious" season, but that the team had played "amazingly" yesterday.

The victory appears to be a final vindication for the under-fire coach, coming after the Bavarians won the Bundesliga title the previous weekend, having clawed back a nine-point deficit from rivals Borussia Dortmund.

"I had to stay calm, I know how difficult the job is. Trophies are important," Kovac told ARD.

Kovac addressed the fans directly with a loudspeaker after the game, thanking them for their support.

"I thanked the fans, without them, we would not have made it out of the hole we were in earlier in the season," he said.

Robert Lewandowski, who scored either side of Kingsley Coman's goal, dedicated the cup triumph to departing teammates Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery who came off the bench to make their final appearance in a Bayern shirt.

"These titles are for Franck and Arjen, they have done so much for the club and we have to thank them," the Polish striker said.

Robben added: "It will take a few days to sink in that it is now actually over, but it was good to go out with the double." - AFP, REUTERS

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