Now, Nani is out


JOHANNESBURG: Portugal winger Nani was ruled out of the World Cup yesterday with a left shoulder injury, the Portuguese Football Fe­­de­ration (PFF) said in a statement.

“After tests we conclude he is unfit to participate in the World Cup,” said the PFF.

Nani picked up the injury in training on Friday in Lisbon before flying to South Africa.

The winger had missed the squad’s final home training session in Portugal on Saturday after falling while attempting an acrobatic shot and causing a traumatism in his shoulder.

During the flight to Johannesburg, he had been confident he would recover in time.

Nani’s loss will be sorely felt by the 2006 semi-finalists who lost to runners-up France in Germany.

The winger had an excellent second half to the season with impressive performances in the Premier League and Champions League with Manchester United.

He will be replaced by Benfica’s Ruben Amorim, the PFF added.

Under FIFA rules, a player can be replaced until the day before their first match.

The other main injury concern in the Portuguese squad is Pepe, who has been recovering from a knee injury he sustained in December.

He has not played since but was last week cleared by doctors from the national side and his club Real Madrid to travel to the Finals.

Portugal play their first tournament match on June 15 against the Ivory Coast in Group G, which also includes Brazil and North Korea.

Earlier on Monday, Australia goalkeeper Brad Jones was forced out of the June 11-July 11 tournament after learning that his four-year-old son was reportedly suffering from leukaemia.

“We consider ourselves a family and the news we heard ... it was devastating. It hit all the boys for six,” admitted Socceroos skipper and defender Lucas Neill.

Other crowd-pullers like Eng­land’s David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand, Germany’s Michael Ballack and Ghana’s Michael Essien pulled out long ago due to injuries.

And Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba and Holland’s Arjen Robben are fighting not to join them.

African Footballer of the Year Drogba needs surgery on a fractured arm, but it is unclear if the striker will then be able to play for Ivory Coast, arguably the continent’s best hope but heavily reliant on their talisman.

Dutch winger Robben has hurt a hamstring but is hoping to join his team-mates later in the tournament to help a nation that has never won the Cup despite its famously skilful teams.

Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo, Australian winger Harry Kewell, Chilean striker Humberto Suazo, and South Korean forward Lee Dong-guk are others struggling to get fit. — Agencies

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