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BRAZIL BEAT: Argentina's 'el Pocho' lightens mood

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 26, 2014 at 6:44 pm •  Published: June 26, 2014

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — When the coach needs to lighten up, squirt some water on him.

That's what Ezequiel Lavezzi did during Argentina's 3-2 win over Nigeria, and his teammates seem to think it's a good idea.

Lavezzi, a known jokester, was receiving instructions from Alejandro Sabella during Wednesday's match when he sent a squirt from his water bottle right in the coach's face.

Sabella didn't flinch and just kept talking.

Midfielder Ricardo Alvarez said Thursday it's the kind of thing everyone on the team has come to expect from Lavezzi, also known as "el Pocho," or the chubby one.

"We know el Pocho and we know the personality he has," Alvarez said. "These things do good for the group, having a person like el Pocho who is always happy and in a good mood."

After the match, a smiling Lavezzi explained his move by saying he thought the coach needed to lighten up.

What Sabella thought of it remains unclear.

— By Karl Ritter—



FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — Veteran Greece midfielder Costas Katsouranis is available to play for his country in Sunday's knockout round match against Costa Rica after sitting out a game because of a red card, but fans are hoping he stays on the bench.

A Facebook page unsubtly titled "No to Katsouranis against Costa Rica" has gone viral, picking up more than 90,000 likes, from football supporters who view the 35-year-old Benfica player as slow and bad-tempered.

Katsouranis played an important part in Greece's qualification run and has 113 appearances for the national team, including its stunning victory at the 2004 European Championships.

But in Brazil, Katsouranis' absence in the final group match against Ivory Coast forced lineup changes that saw Greece score its first goals of the tournament for a 2-1 win.

— By Derek Gatopoulos —



SAO PAULO (AP) — South Korea enjoys strong support in Sao Paulo's Bom Retiro neighborhood.

On Thursday, hundreds of people gathered for a Korean food festival held to get the community together before the team's match against Belgium, also in Sao Paulo. The food ran out early because so many lined up to eat traditional dishes such as fried fish, turnip's broth and hot dogs on sticks covered with French fries.

"We did this today because we wanted to reach out to our Korean community in Brazil," said Minsun Kim, manager of the Korea Agro-Trade Center of Los Angeles, which organized the festival.

In the neighborhood, a lot of businesses such as photo studios, butchers and markets have signs that read only in Korean. Many residents left their homes in the team's red jersey heading to the subway station that would take them to the stadium.

At the festival, children were kicking a soccer ball through a hole in a cardboard cutout with cartoons of Brazil star Neymar and coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. Underneath the sports celebrities, there were Korean pop artists.

It really wasn't too much about football. Women were trying on traditional tunics while others were watching hip-hop dancers and Taekwondo students perform a routine.

— By Adriana Gomez Licon —



SAO PAULO (AP) — Nothing says Brazil quite like Havaianas.

The world-famous brand of rubber and plastic flip-flops, with the little Brazilian flag on its strap, has become the country's most popular export and a must-have for any visiting tourist.

So naturally during this World Cup, the company's concept store on upscale Rua Oscar Freire has become a pilgrimage of sorts for fans.

Havaianas has adjusted accordingly, launching a line of flip-flops with designs honoring each of the 12 host cities. Even more of a draw is a wall devoted to versions featuring various World Cup teams, with their national flags replacing the trademark one of Brazil. England, Germany and Spain are there, of course, but also Bosnia-Herzegovina and non-World Cup qualifiers like Angola, New Zealand, Peru and Ireland.

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