Low: Germany unaffected by captain controversy

DURBAN - Germany's focus on their World Cup semi-final match against Spain on Wednesday has not been blurred by a captaincy controversy, coach Joachim Low said on Tuesday.

Skipper Philipp Lahm, who took over the role from Michael Ballack after the 33-year-old was ruled out of the tournament with an injury, had earlier on Tuesday said he had no intention of willingly giving up the captain's armband.

Lahm made his comments in an interview with the newspaper Bild.

"That does not bother us at all," coach Joachim Low told reporters. "Philipp spoke honestly about what he thinks. He has been enjoying the added responsibility and he has done his job here in an exemplary fashion."

Lahm is officially the World Cup captain while Ballack, who recently moved from Chelsea to German club Bayer Leverkusen, remains the team captain.

"Philipp said he would like to continue but he also said he knows it is up to the coach to decide after the World Cup."


Ballack, who has missed the tournament due to an ankle injury, flew out to be with the team ahead of the quarter-final with Argentina but returned to Europe on Monday prompting speculation he may have been upset with Lahm's comments.

Low said Ballack had returned to continue treatment on his injury but would come back for the final should Germany win the semi-final against the European champions.

"Michael Ballack is fit. He was checked here by our doctors who suggested he should start training again. so he returned for a bit more therapy but he will come back at the weekend if we win tomorrow," Low said.

In his comments to Bild, Lahm had said: "It's obvious that I'd like to keep the captain's armband. The job gives me a great deal of enjoyment. Why should I then give it up by choice?

"If you do the job out there on the pitch and you have it under control, as in my case, you want more. You want more responsibility. You want to take care of it all. That is the case with me," he added.

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