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Rediff.com  » Sports » World Cup Diary: Oracle tapir predicts Sweden will beat South Korea

World Cup Diary: Oracle tapir predicts Sweden will beat South Korea

June 16, 2018 14:45 IST

IMAGE: Limpopo Zoo's tapir, called Cleopatra, predicted a win for Sweden against South Korea. Photograph: Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images

With three days until the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod hosts its first World Cup match between Sweden and South Korea, a local zoo on Friday asked its "animal oracle" for the result.

IMAGE: Limpopo Zoo's tapir, called Cleopatra, predicted a win for Sweden against South Korea. Photograph: Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images

Limpopo Zoo's tapir, called Cleopatra, had the task of choosing between two fruit bowls -- one with a Swedish flag on it and the other with a South Korean flag.

Cleopatra did not hesitate and walked straight up to the bowl representing Sweden and emptied it -- meaning a win for the Scandinavian side in the Group F match on Monday.

Zoo director Vladimir Gerasimov explained the reason why Cleopatra might have a little better understanding of soccer than other animals.

"Because her homeland is Brazil and South America, this animal got the privilege to divine. Today, she predicted that the Sweden will win their match," he said.

The tapir is a fruit and leaf-eating animal that lives in South and Central America but also in Southeast Asia. The pig-like creature is a rare choice to predict World Cup results.

So far during the competition in Russia, cats and monkeys have been the animals of choice.

Belgium keep faith in Kompany, Vermaelen

Vincent Kompany

IMAGE: Belgium captain Vincent Kompany injured his groin in a pre-tournament friendly against Portugal. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Belgium have sent standby defender Laurent Ciman home, showing confidence in the fitness of key defenders Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen ahead of their World Cup opener on Monday.

Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez will now be hoping the veteran pair do not suffer a recurrence of the injuries that have disrupted their World Cup preparation.

Captain Kompany injured his groin in a pre-tournament friendly against Portugal, while Barcelona's Vermaelen has been carrying a hamstring injury he suffered last month.

Los Angeles FC defender Ciman had been training with the Belgian side in Russia in case Kompany or Vermaelen failed fitness tests.

Martinez can also call upon the Tottenham Hotspur pair of Jan Vertonghan and Toby Alderweireld, as well as Celtic's Dedryck Boyata, in central defence.

Belgium begin their Group G campaign against Panama in Sochi.

Ansarifard urges Iran to ensure Queiroz stays after Russia

IMAGE: Iran players celebrate victory by throwing head coach Carlos Queiroz in the air at the end of their Goup B match against Morocco. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Iran forward Karim Ansarifard has called for the country's football authorities to convince coach Carlos Queiroz to extend his stay after the side's dramatic last-gasp 1-0 World Cup victory over Morocco on Friday.

Queiroz led Team Melli to their first World Cup win in 20 years -- and only the second in the country's history -- when Aziz Bouhaddouz's own goal deep into added time gave the Iranians all three points in their Group B opener.

The win is the highlight of a seven-year stint in Iran for the Portuguese coach, who announced before the tournament that he would stand down from his role after only being offered a six-month extension to his contract.

Ansarifard, however, wants the Iran Football Federation to reconsider the situation and convince the 65-year-old to remain in the role long after the tournament in Russia concludes.

"We hope he will stay and we will pray that he will stay because now after seven years he's one of us and he has tried to give everything to our national team," the Olympiacos striker told reporters.

"He deserves to stay with us and make all of the Iranian people proud."

Former Real Madrid coach Queiroz was handed the Iran job in April 2011 and has qualified the country for the last two World Cup tournaments, the first time they have appeared at back-to-back finals.

But the former goalkeeper has had a fractious relationship with football authorities in Iran and has threatened to resign on a number of occasions throughout his tenure.

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