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Germany's Michael Ballack will miss World Cup

Germany captain Michael Ballack will miss the World Cup because of a

right ankle injury, dealing the three-time champions a serious blow less

than a month before the tournament.

The German soccer federation

said Monday that the 33-year-old Chelsea midfielder had torn ligaments

in his right ankle from a tackle during his club’s 1-0 FA Cup final

victory over Portsmouth on Saturday. Ballack’s ankle has been put in a

cast and the federation said he won’t be able to train for at least

eight weeks.

“It’s very disappointing, but I have to accept it,”

Ballack told German television, standing with crutches. “It’s football

and you have to live with it. … I am angry, clearly.”

Ballack’s

absence leaves Germany coach Joachim Loew without his most experienced

player and leader in a squad with many young players.

The injury

probably costs Ballack another chance to win the World Cup title after

reaching the 2002 final and the 2006 semifinals.

“We are shocked,

no question about it, and we are all very, very sad,” Loew said at the

team’s training camp in Sicily. “He is a very important player for us, a

world class player who played a very important role in decisive games

for us.

“There can be no question of resignation now. We are sure

we can still play a good tournament.”

Loew will now have to pick a

new captain and find someone to fill the defensive midfield role played

by Ballack, Germany’s three-time player of the year.

Despite his

long and distinguished service, Ballack has been unable to win a title

with Germany. He played a total of 63 minutes in his first major

tournament, the 2000 European Championship.

Two years later in

Japan and South Korea, his goals against the United States and South

Korea helped Germany reach the final. But he missed the final loss to

Brazil after receiving a yellow card in the semifinals.

The 2004

European championship was another disappointment, with Germany

eliminated after the group stage. Juergen Klinsmann then took over as

coach and selected Ballack as his captain.

Ballack missed the

opening match of the 2006 World Cup in Germany because of a calf injury

and didn’t score in the tournament.

He had two ankle operations

before Euro 2008 but injured a calf before the final. Ballack played the

match but Germany lost to Spain.

Ballack flew to Germany late

Sunday to be examined by national team and Bayern Munich doctor

Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt on Monday. Ballack’s ankle was still too

swollen Sunday for a previously scheduled scan in London.

The

federation said he should make a full recovery.

Ballack, who has

made 98 appearances for Germany and scored 42 goals, was injured

Saturday after a tackle by Kevin-Prince Boateng, previously a Bundesliga

player who is the half brother of Germany defender Jerome Boateng.

Kevin-Prince Boateng has chosen to play for Ghana, the country of his

father and one of Germany’s World Cup opponents.

Loew called the

tackle “brutal,” and Ballack said the foul might have been intentional.

Ballack and Boateng were involved in a scuffle shortly before the foul.

“I

have seen it on TV and to say it was not on purpose means you have to

be a friend of Boateng,” Ballack said after the final at Wembley.

“Boateng was lucky to get away with a yellow, but it is football and if

the referee controls the game and decides it is no red card you have to

accept it.”

Boateng was born and raised in Berlin and played for

several Germany youth selections, including the under-21 team. From

Hertha Berlin, he moved to Tottenham, then went on loan to Borussia

Dortmund before joining Portsmouth.

Germany’s incomplete squad has

been in Sicily since Friday. Seven players from Bayern Munich will join

only after Saturday’s Champions League final against Inter Milan.

Germany

opens its World Cup campaign against Australia and then plays Serbia

and Ghana in Group D.

– Associated Press