Football fans across Germany will be hoping a "psychic" cephalopod's fabled skills of prophecy have failed him after Paul the octopus predicted a German loss in their World Cup semi-final with Spain. With a 100 per cent record so far, the British-born aquarium dweller at Sea Life in Oberhausen, western Germany, has become a celebrity having correctly predicted a series of German wins and even Germany's surprise group stage loss to Serbia. Yesterday, Paul once again was given the choice of picking food from two different plastic containers lowered into his tank - one decorated with a Spanish flag and one with a German flag.The container which Paul opens first is seen as his pick. He settled on both containers at first in a sign of hesitation before opening the box with the Spanish flag. The decision was broadcast live on several news channels in Germany, although commentators immediately cast doubt over the prediction by Paul, who was born in Weymouth, England. While Paul has been faultless at the World Cup so far, he is not infallible - at Euro 2008 he incorrectly picked Germany as the victor against Spain.
Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian president, said yesterday that hundreds of posts on his Facebook page had helped persuade him to reverse his suspension of the national football team from international competitions. On Monday, Jonathan rescinded a two-year suspension imposed following the side's embarrassing performance at the World Cup. The Super Eagles were knocked out in the group stage after failing to win a game. "To Suleiman Musa, Nwanze Francis Uchenna and Ifade Udunayo Peter and the hundreds of Nigerians who appealed to me on this page, I have listened to your voices and those of others," Jonathan said. "We must now work together to make sure that the Nigerian Football Federation and our players do us proud in future events," he wrote on the social networking site. The presidency confirmed late last month that Jonathan had launched a page on Facebook. The leader of Africa's most populous nation has more than 75,000 Facebook followers and lists his political views as "moderate". Fifa will continue monitoring Nigerian football for political interference despite the government backing down on threats to remove its national teams from competition. Fifa was poised to suspend Nigeria from world football - a move which would also have affected club teams, referees and officials - when a peace agreement was reached on Monday.
Jacob Zuma, the South Africa president, says the World Cup has been an economic success for his nation. Zuma told an investment conference in Cape Town that the country got a good return on its tens of billions of dollars invested on transport infrastructure, telecommunications and stadiums. He said that investment in stadiums created some 66,000 new construction jobs, while money spent on security means the country has an additional 40,000 police officers.
Ghanaians turned out in their thousands to cheer their team's arrival home late on Monday night, spraying the plane carrying the team with water cannons and rolling out the red carpet for the World Cup's surprise quarter-finalists. The Black Stars matched African pioneers Cameroon (1990) and Senegal (2002) in reaching the last eight of the World Cup, before losing on penalties to Uruguay. Many revellers at the airport draped themselves in the country's national colours of green, gold and red. "The Stars fought gallantly, not only making Ghana proud, but the entire African continent," said Felicia Acheampong, a 53-year-old teacher who was part of the celebrations. Tony Bakah, a 42-year-old man blowing a red, gold and green vuvuzela horn, had nicknamed his newborn baby "Olele", the affectionate nickname of Richard Kingson, the Ghana goalkeeper. "It's a way of remembering the performance of the Stars," he said.
Justo Villar, the Paraguay captain, has hit out at Fifa for giving the World Cup to South Africa, claiming the country were not prepared to host the tournament. South Africa has generally garnered praise for their hosting of football's showpiece event as many pre-tournament fears failed to materialise. However, Villar, who was playing in his third World Cup, insists that behind the scenes it was a very different story. "I think South Africa weren't prepared to host the World Cup," the Valladolid goalkeeper told Telefuturo. "A mountain of things happened. Like in the first game, against Italy, when we had to go to the hotel, the bus broke down - a new bus - and we had to wait 45 minutes and we had to go in taxis. Fifa only care about the stadiums and what you see on TV."`