Shearer still a giant for England with starring role in Korea

World Cup Diary

* There is at least one person on this earth who refuses to accept that Alan Shearer's World Cup days are over. A Seoul artist, commissioned to paint a 20-foot high mural to commemorate the World Cup, was left to pick three players to star in his artwork. Perhaps David Beckham, Paolo Maldini, Ronaldo or Gabriel Batistuta? Well, no. He chose the former England captain, plus Jürgen Klinsmann and Carlos Valderrama.

* Nigeria are planning a quick exit after playing England. The Super Eagles are booked into Osaka's Ana Gate Hotel, a stone's throw from the main runway at Kansai International Airport.

* Failure does not always lead to condemnation. Around 200 fans crowded Ecuador's training session Tuesday to salute coach Hernan Gomez and thank him for leading the team to their first finals. Gomez bounded up into the stands to sign autographs and was swarmed by admirers as he boarded the team bus.

* Swedish football experts are no better at predicting World Cup success than anyone else, a study at Stockholm's School of Economics has shown. 278 so-called experts, and ordinary Swedes, took part, predicting who would come out on top in South Korea and Japan. Most participants picked France, Argentina, Brazil and Italy to make the final, but the Swedish pundits were particularly caught out by all the big-name defeats and exits in the first 10 days.

* The chances of a typhoon threatening the World Cup have receded, according to meteorologists.

* Mexico have been the cleanest team so far, picking up one yellow card in their first two games. Before yesterday's matches, the dirtiest side was Japan, with 60 fouls – but also the most sinned-against, with 59 fouls on them.

* Dozens of Bangladeshi fans of Brazil and Argentina fought each other yesterday with stones and iron rods over hoisting flags in their village. At least 20 fans were injured in the fighting in Badanpur, 75 miles northwest of Dhaka. The clash occurred after the rival factions tried to hoist the flags of Brazil and Argentina on the same coconut tree.

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