Ballack backed by Löw to bounce back from injury and earn Germany recall

Germany coach Joachim Löw has said midfielder Michael Ballack can still return to the national team despite his latest injury setback. Ballack turns 34 later this month. He missed the World Cup with an ankle injury and now faces a six-week lay-off with a new leg injury.

The Bayer Leverkusen player officially remains Germany captain but Löw has said he must regain his pre-injury form to earn his place back. Löw said that "in principle I think Michael Ballack can come back again, because he is driven by enormous ambition."

He added that Ballack has never shied away from fighting for his place, but that "such a situation is not easy" because "time goes on ... new, young players come in."

In Italy talks to resolve a proposed player strike later this month will resume tomorrow after Serie A and the players' association presidents failed to find common ground. The Serie A president Maurizio Beretta and players' association president Sergio Campana met in Milan and left the talks confident that an accord will soon be reached.

Beretta said "on Friday morning the two parties shall meet again and we both have a responsibility to ensure it is a constructive meeting. It will be a closed meeting and possibly be concluded on the day." Italy's players announced the strike action in response to a proposal to limit their rights to refuse a transfer near the end of their contracts.

The Serbia coach, Radomir Antic, was sacked yesterday and replaced by former Yugoslavia midfielder Vladimir Petrovic, the Serbian Football Association (FSS) said.

"We made a unanimous decision to terminate the contract with Antic. We gave him a second chance after the World Cup fiasco but we got ourselves into a predicament and we really had no choice," FSS president Tomislav Karadzic said. Antic had blamed the referee for Serbia's 2-1 World Cup Group D defeat by Australia which cost his team a berth in the second round of the tournament in South Africa.

"Antic turned out to be a good short-term solution but left a lot to be desired in the long run. Petrovic will sign until the end of 2011 and his contract will be automatically extended if we qualify for Euro 2012," Karadzic said.

Petrovic, who played for Arsenal in the 1982-83 season and made 34 appearances for the former Yugoslavia, steered Serbia and Montenegro to the final of the 2004 European Under-21 championship in Germany.

Saudi Arabia's Al Shabab and South Korea's Seongnam Ilhwa have recorded impressive wins in the first leg of their Asian Champions League quarter-finals. Al Shabab won 2-0 away at South Korea's Jeonbuk Hyundai, while Seongnam had a 4-1 home win against domestic rivals Suwon Blue Wings in yesterday's games.

Al Shabab scored midway through the second half through Fahad Hamad, and despite being reduced to 10 men late in the half, boosted the advantage ahead of the second leg with a second goal from Uruguyan Juan Manuel Oliveira.

Seongnam better handled a poor playing surface and won convincingly. Montenegran striker Dzenan Radoncic opened the scoring and got another in the second half, with Colombian Mauricio Molina and So Hong-yeung also scoring for the hosts. Yeom Ki-hun got Suwon's goal.

Champions and co-costs Vietnam have been drawn with three-times winners Singapore in the 2010 AFF Cup, South-east Asia's premier football tournament. Myanmar will be the third team in Group B and will be joined by a qualifier following yesterday's draw. The event, held every two years, will be co-hosted by Vietnam and Indonesia in December following a four-team qualifying event in Laos in October.

In Group A, co-hosts Indonesia, who played in three straight finals from 2000 but have yet to win the tournament, will meet three-times champions Thailand, coached by former England captain Bryan Robson, and Malaysia, who are on a high after winning the SEA Games football title last December.

Two spots were left open in the draw for the first and second-placed teams from qualifying at the National Sports Complex in Vientiane involving hosts Laos, Cambodia, Philippines and East Timor next month.

Vietnam will prepare by playing North Korea and the Under-23 teams from Australia and Kuwait in a round-robin tournament from 20 September to mark the 1,000th anniversary of the founding of the nation's capital, Hanoi.

The Singapore coach, Radojko Avramovic, was happy with his Lions'chances, too. "The group we are in is slightly easier than the other group where there will be three title contenders in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia," he said.

"Overall, I am happy with the draw. Our target in this tournament is to reach the final, Avramovic added.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice
music

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
i100
Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album