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German squad sets off for South Africa full of hope

After months of speculation and weeks of warm-up matches, the German football team has finally departed for the World Cup in South Africa. Coach Joachim Loew says his squad is fit and ready to take on the world.

The German team poses before a friendly soccer match between Germany and Bosnia-Herzegovina

Germany will be without five first-choice players

The German national soccer team has departed for South Africa as the country gears up for a tilt at claiming the World Cup for a fourth time.

Head coach Joachim Loew said his squad was fit and in top form, despite a string of injuries that have ruled out five first-choice players.

"I have had no (injury) reports in the last few days. There are no problems," Loew said as his squad gathered in Frankfurt for the flight to South Africa.

"After more than three weeks of preparation we are all pleased to be going into a competition. We want to measure ourselves against the others," he told Germany news agency DPA.

"Everybody is looking forward to seeing how things are there and to get their own impressions of the host country."

Ins and outs

Philipp Lahm

Lahm will lead the German team in Ballack's absence

The team will have to make do without captain and talisman Michael Ballack and star goalie Rene Adler, along with Simon Rolfes, Heiko Westermann and Christian Traesch, who have all been ruled out through injury.

But Loew said he was happy with the players at his disposal and that preparations were going according to plan.

"We are going into this tournament well prepared," Loew said. "I have full confidence in the quality of our team."

Bayern Munich defender Philipp Lahm was named replacement captain, with midfielder and club teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger his deputy. Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer looks likely to get the nod ahead of Tim Wiese and Hans-Joerg Butt.

Germany began its World Cup odyssey with victories in warm-up matches against Malta, Hungary and most recently Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The team is to arrive in South Africa on Monday and then travel to its base outside Pretoria to prepare for its opening Group D clash against Australia on Sunday, June 13. Germany will also face Serbia and Ghana in the group stages.

Author: Darren Mara (Reuters/dpa)

Editor: Sonia Phalnikar

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