Ballack gets recall

BERLIN: Germany captain Michael Ballack will figure in next week’s World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan despite being short of match fitness, coach Joachim Loew declared on Wednesday. Ballack was forced to fly home early from his club Chelsea’s pre-season tour of the United States with a fractured toe, but is set to figure in the Community Shield clash with Manchester United on Sunday. Loew stressed Ballack’s importance for the qualifier in Baku. Germany take on Azerbaijan, coached by former Germany and Scotland boss Berti Vogts, as Group Four leaders, one point clear of Russia whom they face on October 10. — AFP

Piquionne strikes deal

PORTSMOUTH: Premier League club Portsmouth signed Lyon striker Frederic Piquionne on a season-long loan deal on Wednesday. Pompey boss Paul Hart has been searching for a new forward after selling Peter Crouch to Tottenham and moved for Piquionne when Hajduk Split’s Nikola Kalinic joined Blackburn instead of the Fratton Park club. Piquionne made 19 appearances for Lyon last season but the French club were willing to sell after bringing in Lisandro Lopez from Porto. — AFP

Bordeaux open talks

PARIS: Bordeaux president Jean-Louis Triaud says he could grant Marouane Chamakh his dream move to Arsenal if Gunners boss Arsene Wenger comes back with a better offer for the striker. “It’s up to Arsene to see what he wants to do,” Triaud said on Wednesday. Triaud said Arsenal has so far offered a figure under $10.8 million for the 25-year-old Morocco forward, who only has one year remaining on his contract. Triaud rates Chamakh twice as highly, but is willing to negotiate. — AP

Sand joins Al Ain

BUENOS AIRES: Argentinan striker Jose Sand signed for United Arab Emirates club Al Ain for a fee of $10 million from Argentine side Lanus, the player announced on Tuesday. The 29-year-old, whose form has earned him a call-up to the national squad by coach Diego Maradona, scored 28 goals for Lanus in the 2008. “Both clubs have reached agreement and all I have to do is to sign the contract,” said Sand. Sand began his career 11 years ago at Argentinian giants River Plate before spending spells with Colon, Banfield, Lanus, and Brazilian outfit Vitoria. — AFP

Kagiso close to move

LONDON: South Africa midfielder Kagiso Dikgacoi is close to joining Fulham after the Premier League club agreed a transfer fee with Golden Arrows. The 24-year-old impressed during a recent pre-season spell with the west London team and will complete his move to England once he is granted a work permit. “We reached an agreement with the club,” Hodgson said on Wednesday. “But it will have to go to a tribunal because we have to apply for a work permit. We’re talking about a guy whose played the last 17 matches for South Africa, who’s a very key figure in their World Cup team coming up.” — AFP

Hull to sign Olofinjana

LONDON: Stoke midfielder Seyi Olofinjana is in talks with Hull for a £3 million move after falling out of favour at the Britannia stadium last season. The 29-year-old Nigerian made a bright start to life at Stoke after joining from Wolves but after starting his first 13 matches he only made one more in the rest of the campaign. “He goes to Hull with our very best wishes,” said Stoke manager Tony Pulis on Wednesday. — AFP