Ballack says he's fit for opener

Germany was plunged into confusion on Friday when captain Michael Ballack told a newspaper he was fit and wanted to play in Friday's World Cup opener.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:34 IST
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Germany was plunged into confusion on Friday when national team captain Michael Ballack told a newspaper he was fit and wanted to play in Friday's World Cup opener against Costa Rica. "I had intensive treatment. I feel fit, I don't feel any pain anymore. I want to play," Ballack told the mass-circulation newspaper Bild. German soccer federation spokesman Harald Stenger said he had no comment. The lineup would be announced 90 minutes before the match, he said. Coach Juergen Klinsmann indicated on Thursday that Ballack would not play in the opening game after training only 30 minutes in the last four days before the game. Ballack did not take part in Germany's official practice session at the Munich stadium on Thursday evening. Ballack's statement is certain to anger Klinsmann, especially since it was made public by the newspaper that has been critical of Klinsmann's methods. Last week, Ballack said he had differences of opinion with Klinsmann over tactics. Ballack had another scan of his right calf on Thursday afternoon, Bild said. "I don't have any complaints anymore. I've told this to the coach. Whether I play is now his decision," Ballack told Bild. Meanwhile, an open letter from Ballack to fans was published in several newspapers. "We may not have the best players, but we could be the best team. For that, we need your help,'' the letter said. On Thursday, Ballack angrily rejected charges he did not seek medical attention quickly enough. Ballack issued a statement through the German Soccer Federation on Thursday hitting out at accusations that he had failed to seek treatment for the calf injury last weekend after a friendly, preferring instead to spend the weekend at home with his family. Ballack, who signed a three-year contract with Chelsea on the day Klinsmann announced his World Cup roster, has had troubled preparations. He had a cold on the island of Sardinia that curtailed some of his training. When the team moved to Geneva, he hurt his left ankle, preventing him from taking part in full training sessions for five days. He did not play in Germany's 7-0 win over Luxembourg, but returned for the 2-2 draw against Japan and the win over Colombia. (AP)