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Injured Santos is our Ballack, says Tunisia coach

Written by: Staff

MUNICH, June 13 (Reuters) Tunisia coach Roger Lemerre compared striker Francileudo Dos Santos's injury situation today with that of hosts Germany and their inspirational playmaker Michael Ballack.

Dos Santos will miss his team's opening match against Saudi Arabia here tomorrow but Frenchman Lemerre is hopeful he will recover in time for the last two games in Group H.

The Brazilian-born forward, recovering from a leg injury, has scored 18 goals in 28 matches for Tunisia since switching allegiance in 2004.

''It is what Germany coach (Juergen) Klinsmann said when Ballack was injured and could not play in the opening match,'' Lemerre told reporters.

''The team can win without Ballack but it is stronger with him.'' Addressing a Brazilian journalist, Lemerre added: ''Now you Brazilians, you should know this. He is Brazilian no more.

''He is Tunisian at heart and you can't have him back.'' Dos Santos was injured in his side's final World Cup warm-up against a local German select team.

''He is not going to play tomorrow but we hope he will recover as quickly as possible,'' Lemerre said.

''We have decided to keep him in the squad and we are hopeful he can play against Spain and Ukraine in the other group matches.'' Tunisia have already replaced two injured players since arriving in Germany, defender Mehdi Meriah and striker Issam Jemaa.

Reuters DH GC2227

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