Karembeu not likely to play

Christian Karembeu, a midfielder with defending world champions France, is an injury worry for the World Cup finals after officials at his Greek club Olympiakos confirmed yesterday that the player has suffered a groin injury. «He suffered a groin strain in the Greek Cup final and has returned to France for treatment,» a club official said. The 32-year-old limped out of Olympiakos’s 2-1 defeat to AEK Athens in the Cup final on Saturday and is a serious doubt for their last match of the season away to Aris Salonika on May 8. Karembeu has been a key figure for the Greek champions this season following his 3-million-pound ($4.4-million) move from Middlesbrough last summer. Karembeu has often shored up a suspect Olympiakos defense and his absence from the Aris match could compromise Olympiakos’s chances to win a sixth successive championship. Olympiakos and AEK both have 55 points after 25 rounds in the Greek soccer championship, but Olympiakos is in first place because it has defeated AEK in both of their encounters this season. AEK is playing PAOK at home and needs to achieve a better result than Olympiakos to snatch the title. Olympiakos coach Takis Lemonis insisted after the final that had the Frenchman been on the pitch the result could have been different. «Karembeu’s exit through injury was among the deciding points in the match,» he told reporters. (Combined reports)

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