Supershorts: The highs and lows of another week on Planet Sport

Osama's timely message
Al Qaeda has issued a video message from Osama bin Laden to dispel rumours the terrorist leader is dead. To prove the video was filmed this week, he waved a newspaper sports section and said England were rubbish at the World Cup.

A sceptical British intelligence service has responded by pointing out the footage could have been filmed at any time over the last 44 years.

Oracle seals Diego's fate
It's official: Diego is as good as out.

Paul, an octopus with a penchant for prediction, is picking Germany to beat Argentina. The eight-armed oracle correctly predicted 80 per cent of German results in Euro 2008 and has been correct on every result so far in South Africa, including the loss to Serbia. After agonising for an hour, Paul decided Germany will beat Argentina. He makes these choices by putting a tentacle over a glass draped in a national flag, containing a mussel.

Iran 1, Great Satans 0
Over in Tehran, they know what's going really on. According to Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki, England, France and the United States didn't get knocked out of the World Cup because they have rubbish teams and play terrible soccer; they got knocked out because they oppose Iran and its "civil" nuclear ambitions.

"Whatever we witness today in the international political arena has been identically manifested in the 19th tournament of the World Cup," says Mottaki.

All for one!
There's nothing like team spirit. As the French were heading home from South Africa, Thierry Henry gave the best indication yet of the mood in the camp: he booked a private jet.

Brazil? Losers
An advertisement in Folha de Sao Paulo, one of Brazil's biggest dailys, consoled readers over their country's World Cup exit - just after they beat Chile 3-0. "The team exited the World Cup, but not our hearts", the ad said.

Heskey hounded
A dog dressed (inevitably) in a Brazil shirt outside a press conference this week was playing keepy-uppy with his owner. A passing English hack said: "Better than Heskey, honest to God."

Goodluck and goodbye
They don't suffer losers lightly over in Nigeria. President Goodluck Jonathan has told his country's players they are banned from entering any soccer competition for two years. Whoever said this tournament was all about celebrating African leadership?

Gamble indeed
Classiest television link of the tournament so far? Andrew Dewhurst giving a rundown on South Africa's recent history from the Apartheid Museum, crossing straight to the TAB for the latest odds. It's what Steve Biko would have wanted.

Very superstitious
Are the Argentinians the most superstitious mob at the World Cup? The great Diego Maradona crosses himself every time he walks on to a new pitch at training and striker Gonzalo Higuain hops three times on his right foot before stepping on to the ground with his left.

GOOD WEEK: Jack Johnson
The black heavyweight boxing champion is in line for a posthumous pardon after a 1913 conviction for transporting a white woman across state lines for immoral purposes.

BAD WEEK: Lebo M
The South African music producer has walked out on the preparations for the closing ceremony after feuding and infighting that began with a squabble over who would sing a tribute song to Nelson Mandela.

THE NUMBER: 20
The number of consecutive tournament shootout penalties German players have scored since their last miss in 1982 when Uli Stielike fluffed his lines in the semifinal.

- NZ Herald

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