Ballack to captain country at World Cup

BERLIN - Michael Ballack will captain Germany at the 2010 World Cup, assuming the three-times winners qualify, but midfield colleague Torsten Frings still has work to do to secure his place, coach Joachim Loew said.

Loew had a public falling-out last year with both Ballack and Frings after the two men criticised the way senior players were being handled in the squad.

Both played in the recent friendly defeat by Norway and Ballack at least has been assured of his continuing presence.

"If (Ballack) is fit he will be there as captain in 2010," Loew told Bild newspaper.

"Of course it was a very strong conflict with Michael. But we live in football, not in some holy world. You will always have conflicts."

He added: "We all made mistakes last year. All of us."

Loew sounded less certain of Frings's chances of being in the squad for South Africa.

"Torsten was injured for quite some time," said Loew, who guided Germany to the runners-up spot at Euro 2008.

"He must work now to get back to his old form. But we also have to see how the team will develop, with some new players coming in, even from the current season."

Germany, who play World Cup qualifiers against Liechtenstein on March 28 and Wales on April 1, top Group Four with 10 points from four matches. Russia are second on six with a game in hand.