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BRAZIL BEAT: Croatia not talking after nude photos


SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Angered by published photos showing them bathing nude at their training complex’s swimming pool, Croatian players are refusing to speak to World Cup reporters.

“They are determined that they will not speak to the media,” Croatia coach Niko Kovac said. “I don’t know if this will last until tomorrow, or until we are at the World Cup.”

The pictures from paparazzo photographers were published by Croatian media.

“I can’t force them to change their minds after what you have done to them and their families,” Kovac said.

A news conference scheduled for Monday at the Croatian camp near Salvador was canceled.

– By Dusan Stojanovic –


NATAL, Brazil (AP) – Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan was sporting a stylish hairstyle before his team’s matchup against the U.S., with a blonde No. 3 dyed into the right side of his head.

Coincidentally, Ghana will be trying to beat the Americans for the third straight time at the World Cup on Monday, following victories in 2006 and 2010 that sent the U.S. home.

Gyan has worn the No. 3 on his head before. It’s also his jersey number, which had been handed over to him by older brother Baffour, a former national team player and his role model.

“It’s my favorite number,” Gyan said. “It’s a powerful number.”

– Jim Vertuno –


BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) – When a player wins a man of the match award at the World Cup, he’s usually showered with a mixture of adulation and congratulations by the media.

Not so Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland’s squat playmaker.

“Do you really think you deserved to be man of the match?” was the first question directed to Shaqiri in his news conference after Switzerland’s 2-1 win over Ecuador on Sunday.

Shaqiri looked taken aback at first. He then let out a little laugh.

“That’s an excellent joke,” he said.

But the questioner, a member of the German press, wasn’t laughing.

“I think I did a great match today,” Shaqiri added. “Others had to decide on this award. I am very proud to receive the award.”

It was hardly one of Shaqiri’s best displays, but the same can be said of the rest of his Switzerland teammates after a sub-par performance against Ecuador that was rescued by substitute Haris Seferovic’s last-gasp winner.

– By Steve Douglas –


SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) – The fact that Miroslav Klose could become the top all-time scorer in World Cup history won’t influence Germany coach Joachim Loew.

Klose, the 36-year-old forward, has 14 goals in 19 World Cup matches, just one short of Brazil’s Ronaldo.

But Loew said that this does not automatically mean he would play Klose in Brazil.

The record “is very important for the team and him personally,” Loew said. “But as a coach, those statistics are secondary and do not mean he would be included in the lineups.”

Klose is the only classic forward on the German team. But Loew has been favoring a “false nine” system, with attacking midfielders taking on the role of scorers, in the likes of Thomas Mueller and Mario Goetze.

– By Dusan Stojanovic –


MANAUS, Brazil (AP) – It’s hot in Manaus. It’s humid in Manaus. And on Sunday, it was race day in Manaus.

About 1,000 runners competed in a dual 5 kilometer-10 kilometer road race in the jungle city, jogging through the high temperatures of the late morning, with most wearing yellow or green T-shirts made for the event.

The race, the 22nd Corrida Rustica, finishes at a marine base on the outskirts of town and celebrates a June 11, 1865, naval battle victory over Paraguay.

And the racers, many of them military personnel, certainly got a feel for the service with a naval band in white uniforms playing music as runners crossed the finish line and collected their medals.

The only thing better than a medal around the neck for the finishers was perhaps a cup full of cold water.

– Chris Lehourites –


SANTOS, Brazil (AP) – Mexico and Brazil did not wait until Tuesday, when they face each other in a Group A match, and took their rivalry to the social networks.

The Brazilian federation challenged its Mexican counterpart to see which country arrives with the most followers for the day of the game.

“Congratulations for yesterday, (at)miseleccionmx! What about a game here on Twitter? Let’s see who gets to the match with more followers…” the CBF posted Saturday night.

The Mexican federation quickly accepted, and the game is on.

The loser will donate a team jersey signed by the players to a charity of the winners choice.

“The bet is on against Brazil on Twitter, let’s see who gets the most followers, even there we want to win,” wrote the Mexican manager, Miguel Herrera.

The battle is a close one. Brazil had 1,615,061 followers, while Mexico had 1,665,931.

– By Carlos Rodriguez –


RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – First there was planking and Tebowing. Now a spectacular World Cup goal has spawned “Persieing.”

In what is sure to be one of the goals of the tournament in Brazil, Netherlands captain Robin van Persie flung himself at a long pass and headed the ball over Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas to level the score at 1-1 just before halftime of the teams’ Group B opener. The Netherlands went on to win 5-1 in one of the shocks of the tournament so far.

The flying Dutchman’s momentum sent him sliding on his belly across the damp turf of Salvador’s Arena Fonte Nova, his arms stretched out to either side.

Fans wasted no time photographing themselves – and even their babies – in similar poses and posting them online, giving birth to the “Persieing” meme.

– By Mike Corder –


TERESOPOLIS, Brazil (AP) – Brazil star Neymar clearly isn’t superstitious when it comes to his hair.

After scoring twice in victory to open the World Cup, Neymar showed up with a new style at the squad’s training session Sunday. So did left back Dani Alves, his Barcelona teammate.

Neymar’s head was shaved on the sides, with the front dyed blond. Alves’ shorter cut had a grayish tinge to it.

Neymar has been known to constantly change his hairstyle during tournaments. Alves also shows up with different haircuts from time to time.

Brazil will play its second World Cup match against Mexico on Tuesday in the northeastern city of Fortaleza.

– By Tales Azzoni –

Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Brazil during the 2014 World Cup. Follow AP journalists covering the World Cup on Twitter: