JOHANNESBURG, June 9 – Portugal suffered a shattering World Cup setback on Tuesday when Manchester United winger Nani was ruled out of the tournament after injuring his collarbone.The 23-year-old, who suffered the injury in training, has become the latest big-name withdrawal from the soccer showpiece joining the likes of England skipper Rio Ferdinand and Germany captain Michael Ballack on the sidelines.
"It’s very sad," said Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz. "But the most important thing is the cohesion of the team and that we all play together to get over it.
"We are a team, we play united with a lot of ambition. This is what I want.
"Nani is in pain. We carried out tests and the upshot is that he is not fit to compete," added Queiroz, after his team beat Mozambique 3-0 in a friendly in Johannesburg.
Nani, who has scored four goals in 34 games for his country to date – including three during qualifying – suffered the injury, which caused bruising, in training on Friday and he will now be replaced by Ruben Amorim of Benfica.
Under FIFA rules, a player can be replaced until the day before their first match.
Nani’s teammate Pepe, of Real Madrid, who played for the national team on Tuesday for the first time in six months after having suffered a knee injury, admitted he was stunned by Nani’s misfortune.
"It’s sad when a player has to miss the World Cup. But Nani is part of the team and each time we win at the World Cup, we will dedicate the victory to him," said Pepe.
Danny, who was on target in Tuesday’s win, said he was sad to hear Nani would miss out.
"We’ll miss him a lot. It’s sad as he’s a great player – he was coming off some fine form," Danny told Portugal’s TVI.
Portugal go up against Brazil, Ivory Coast and North Korea in the World Cup finals which get underway on Friday.