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FOOTBALL

Mineiro steps in as Edmilson quits

story.mineiro.afp.gi.jpg
Mineiro scored the winner against Liverpool in the FIFA World Club final

SPECIAL REPORT

WEGGIS, Switzerland -- Barcelona player Edmilson has pulled out of champions Brazil's World Cup squad due to an injury to his right knee, team doctor Jose Luis Runco said on Wednesday.

Sao Paulo's 30-year-old Mineiro is being drafted in to the squad as replacement after a scan showed defensive midfielder Edmilson had a torn meniscus.

Brazil's soccer federation said the player had been experiencing pain and movement difficulty in the joint.

"He had a rupture on the lateral side of the meniscus of the right knee, it's an injury that makes him unfit to compete," Runco told a news conference.

Edmilson made headlines in Brazil this week after exchanging rough tackles with striker Adriano in practice.

"What hurts the most is that I worked so hard to be able to play in this World Cup," Edmilson said. "But that's a thing of life.

"The players, and especially my family, have been helping a lot, they always have," he added. "You never expect something like this to happen to us."

Mineiro is from the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.

The highlight of his career was scoring the winning goal for Sao Paulo against Liverpool in the FIFA World Club Championship final in Japan last year.

With Sao Paulo, he also won the Paulista title and the Libertadores Cup.

Brazil launch their World Cup campaign against Croatia in Berlin on June 13 and also face Australia and Japan in Group F.

Kaji okay

Defender Akira Kaji was on Wednesday given the green light to play in Japan's World Cup opener after an injury scare in a warm-up game against Germany.

Kaji was taken off on a stretcher in Tuesday's 2-2 draw against the World Cup hosts following a heavy challenge from Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Japan's right wing back suffered a bruised right foot but should be fit to play in their Group F opener against Australia on June 12, according to team doctors.

Japan coach Zico has already been forced to replace defender Makoto Tanaka with Teruyuki Moniwa after Tanaka failed to recover from a hamstring injury before the team left Japan.

Moniwa was called back from vacation in Hawaii to join the Japan squad. The 24-year-old was awoken at 4 a.m. by a phone call from the Japan Football Association.

"I didn't know what was going on," Moniwa told reporters. "It's still not really sunk in. Maybe it will once I get to Germany."

Asian champions Japan play Malta on June 4 in their final warm-up game. Japan's group also includes Croatia and World Cup holders Brazil.

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