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Michael Essien out of FIFA World Cup

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Ghana's World Cup chances have been dealt a huge blow as their inspirational captain, Michael Essien was ruled out of the tournament following his failure to recover from a long term knee injury. He is the second Captain after Michael Ballack to miss out the chance to play in South Africa 2010. Ironically Ballack's team Germany are in the same group as Ghana, the 'Curse of the Group D' striking again.

Ghana Football Association issued a statement yesterday which said, "An evaluation by a combined team of medical experts from the Ghana Football Association and Chelsea Football Club revealed that Essien will not make full recovery until the end of July. The Ghana Football Association wishes him full recovery and a quick return to football action." Chelsea added: "Complications arising from the surgery have meant Michael's recovery has been slower than expected."

Essien will face a race against time to be fit to start of Chelsea's title defence in August.

Earlier this week Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac, had expressed optimism that the former Lyon star would be fit for the latter half of the tournament in South Africa this summer, should they progress further on. The news of Essien's injury will serve as a major setback to the Black Stars suport staff, who are already reeling with existing doubts over the fitness of key players which include goalkeeper Richard Kingson, deputy captain John Mensah and midfielder Emmanuel Agyemang Badu.

Essien injured himself during his country's African Nations Cup campaign in January and has since failed to make a single appearance on the football pitch. After strong campaigns under Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho, he has only managed to make 25 league appearances in the last two seasons. Often referred to as "the Bison" for his tough tackling style, limitless energy and physical presence on the pitch, Essian will be sorely missed by the Black Stars who lie in a tough Group in the World Cup, alongwith Germany, Serbia and Australia. His injury has reduced Ghana's chances of advancement in the World Cup massively. Ghana will now be relying on some stellar performances from the team's other big stars, such as Inter Milan's midfielder, Sulley Muntari and Portsmouth's midfielder, Kevin-Prince Boateng, if they are to repeat their 206 World Cup's performance of reaching the Group stages. They kickstart their World Cup campaign against Serbia on the 13th of June.

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