WORLD CUP FOOTBALL: Paul faces parakeet challenge

WORLD CUP FOOTBALL FINALS: Paul faces parakeet challenge – Now the ‘Mani’ spin, unpredictable as usual ?!!

Paul, the ‘psychic’ octopus, squeezes into a box decorated with a Spanish flag and having a shell inside on Friday at the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen, western Germany. Paul’s task was to decide in favour of one of the shells hidden in boxes with the flags of the Netherlands and Spain. Paul predicted Spain would win the World Cup. But Mani (above), a parakeet in Singapore, picked the Netherlands as the winner - so who are you going to choose, pick any winner ?!! (AFP pictures)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY AGENCIES

Singapore: Paul, the Octopus, is not the only creature predicting World Cup results. A parakeet, long tailed parrot, named ‘Mani’ has also been forecasting match results.

Mani has become the talk of the town after predicting that the Netherlands will lift the trophy. The parrot, an ‘assistant’ to a roadside astrologer, had earlier predicted Spain-Germany semi-final and all the quarter final ties.

Paul, however, has predicted a Spanish triumph. He has also predicted that Germany will win over Uruguay in Saturday’s third place playoff.

Money for match

Johannesburg: South Africa’s airport management body says it will reimburse hundreds of fans who missed a World Cup semi-final because of congestion at Durban airport. Airports Company South Africa said Friday it has set aside $52,000 to be distributed to those affected. It said this was a “gesture of goodwill” and not admission of any liability.

Two robbed

Potchefstroom: Spain players Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodriguez were robbed ahead of their World Cup semi-final win over Germany in Durban. Spanish media reported the players’ rooms were broken into ahead of their 0-1 victory on Wednesday, with Busquets losing documents and about $1,014. Pedro reportedly lost about $1,267 from his safe.

Antic angry

Belgrade: Serbia coach Radomir Antic has criticised Fifa’s decision to suspend and fine him. In a statement Friday Antic calls the punishment “inappropriate and undeserved.” Serbia’s football association said this week that Fifa handed Antic a four-match ban and fined him $13,000 over his alleged “inappropriate behaviour” after a World Cup match against Australia in South Africa.

Scribe no more

Johannesburg: Fifa president Sepp Blatter has paid tribute to Associated Press sports writer Robert Millward, who died Thursday while covering the World Cup. Millward, 58, collapsed and died in his Johannesburg hotel room, apparently of natural causes.

Ruud for Spain

Madrid: Ruud van Nistelrooy agrees with Spain’s status as the favourites in the World Cup final against the Dutch, saying the European champions’ style of football is “out of reach.” Van Nistelrooy said that “no one moves the ball as well as the Spanish team.”

MEANWHILE

Dutch fear Spanish flair – Popular vote is with Spain, but Dutch coach believes team can sweep the stakes – favourite heroes all fallen, so nothing to lose sleep about ?!!

BY JAYDEEP BASU

Johannesburg: The Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk has more than one problem to grapple with on the eve of Sunday’s World Cup final against Spain at Soccer City.

There is already a huge hype over a possible Spanish triumph in the final, especially after their dazzling display against Germany. Most experts, including Germany coach Joachim Loew, have predicted a difficult outing for the Dutch who will be looking to stop the Spanish armada in their bud to lift the Cup for the first time.

To add to the Netherlands’ discomfort, a section of past Dutch masters, and that includes Johan Cruyff, has decided to put its money on Spain.

Marwijk, though, has managed to remain calm under pressure. After returning from Cape Town, where they defeated Uruguay in the semi-final, the Dutch team checked into a hotel in the Parktown area here and hardly stepped foot outside the premises.

The coach allowed the boys two days’ rest, resuming training only on Friday when the team went to the Wits Rugby Stadium for a behind closed-doors practice session.

The Dutch fans present here, however, are upbeat. They hang around the team hotel to get a glimpse of the stars and follow the team when the Arjen Robbens leave for training.

Despite all the talk of Spain being the favourites, Marwijk kept a brave face and said his team were not afraid of anyone.

“We know Spain play attractive football and that they did very well against Germany,” Van Marwijk said. “But that doesn’t mean we are afraid of them.”

Both the Netherlands and Spain are bidding for their first World Cup title.

“At the moment, I think Spain play a little more attractively than we do. Altogether, we would like to do the same. They have a few more advantages right now. There are no secrets for us with Spain. We are not afraid,” said the 58-year-old coach.

It is a pity that the Netherlands, the only team to have won all their matches so far at the current World Cup, are not being fully backed by their former players.

“Spain are favourites to win the World Cup,” Cruyff said after the finalists were decided. “Against Germany, they dazzled us and played football as they know best.

“They (the Germans) play a kind of football that, without a doubt, would have been enough to beat any other team. Germany knew what they were going through, just like Holland are probably thinking now.” Even Ronald de Boer a former Dutch international, was sceptical about his team’s chances.

In a brief interaction with The Telegraph, De Boer said: “I am not sure what is going to happen. Spain are a brilliant side, playing very well. Our team have to give everything if they are to have any hope of success.”

Marwijk has chosen to ignore the negative comments.

“We have our feet on the ground and the focus on the match,” he said. “What happened before my time, with all due respect, I don’t look at it. I do things my way, we play good football and, sometimes, beautiful football, but we are neither arrogant nor over-confident.”

Meanwhile, Arjen Robben said does not really care how the Dutch win as long as he can lift the trophy

“I’d rather play an extremely ugly game and win, instead of a beautiful one and lose,” Robben said.

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