KAISER'S TACTICAL MOVE

CHERYL TWEEDY, girlfriend of England's Ashley Cole and Victoria Beckham, wife of England captain David Beckham, watch the England-Ecuador round of 16 match in Stuttgart.-AP

Beckenbauer picked June 23 for his marriage because it was the birthday of his mother who died in January at the age of 92. Here are some DIARY OF EVENTS from MARTYN ZIEGLER.

Franz Beckenbauer married his girlfriend Heidi Burmester. The Kaiser, president of Germany's World Cup Organising Committee, celebrated with close family in Kitzbuhl but it was business as usual for him: he watched the Germany-Sweden match in Munich before taking a helicopter to Leipzig for the Argentina-Mexico tie.

Beckenbauer said he had chosen to marry during the tournament in order to side-step press interest.

"Nobody expected us to marry during the World Cup," he said. "We wanted to keep away all attention and be for ourselves."

Beckenbauer picked June 23 because it was the birthday of his mother who died in January at the age of 92.

Howard's call

Like all good politicians, Australian Prime Minister John Howard was quickly on to the phone to express his delight at the Socceroos' achievement in reaching the World Cup knockout phase. John O'Neill, chief executive of Football Federation Australia, took the call within minutes of the final whistle following the 2-2 draw with Croatia.

"The phone went but the stadium was so noisy I didn't have a clue who it was," said O'Neill. "I kept saying `Who? Who?'. It was only when I walked to a quieter part I realised I was bellowing at the Prime Minister."

Gallas' gesture

Chelsea defender William Gallas carried a birthday cake on to the France team coach after the 2-0 win over Togo that helped them to make the last-16. It was not clear if the cake was for Zinedine Zidane who turned 34 or Patrick Vieira who was 30.

Pfister rates Agassa high

Togo coach Otto Pfister has tipped goalkeeper Kossi Agassa for greatness in his club career. "He (Agassa) plays for Metz (who have been relegated to France's Ligue 2) but he has competition for the starting position there," said Pfister after the 2-0 defeat by France. "However, I believe he is capable of playing at the real top level with a big club."

Girl power

England were not the only team with high-profile pop singers backing their national team at the World Cup. Sven-Goran Eriksson's men had former 'Spice Girl' Victoria Beckham and 'Girls Aloud' star Cheryl Tweedy, the partner of Ashley Cole. They were staying in the hotel for the players' wives at Baden-Baden.

Ukraine also had added some girl power to their cause in the shape of Ruslana, the winner of the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest with her memorable winning ditty "Wild Dance". Ruslana, who performed at the Fan Fest in Cologne, is also a Ukrainian MP — as is Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin. Ukraine had also received high-profile support from the Klitschko brothers Vitali and Vladimir, the former once a world heavyweight champion and the latter the reigning WBO champion.

Guimaraes' woes

Life got worse for Costa Rica coach Alexandre Guimaraes whose team was, along with Poland, the first to be eliminated from the World Cup. Now his dog has run away from home.

World Cup mural

Cologne's main railway station has taken its inspiration from the Sistine Chapel for a World Cup mural on the ceiling of its main entry hall. The station is situated right next to Cologne's spectacular medieval cathedral, considered one of the most magnificent examples of Gothic architecture in the world.

In the main entry hall to the station is a fresco that, in the style of Michelangelo, displays World Cup stars such as David Beckham, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Djibril Cisse.

Bierhoff unhappy

Oliver Bierhoff, the former Germany striker who is now a senior member of Juergen Klinsmann's management team, was moaning that the families of German players and coaching staff were not being given good enough seats for World Cup matches.

The seats involved were category one tickets but Bierhoff had complained the families had been put in the corners of stadia.

Wolfgang Niersbach, head of the German organisers, said: "I have spoken to Oliver Bierhoff and he remains dissatisfied but there is no other approach. It is the same for the families of all the other teams."

Maradona breaches protocol

Diego Maradona breached royal protocol when he planted a kiss on the lips of Maxima, the wife of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands during the Holland-Argentina match. Willem-Alexander and Maxima seemed more amused than shocked by the incident.

Van der Sar way off the mark

Edwin van der Sar showed precisely why he is a goalkeeper at Holland's Freiburg training camp. Living out his dream to be a striker, the Manchester United man was attempting to convert a series of Dirk Kuyt crosses at the Badenova Stadium when, to huge applause from the watching media, Van der Sar swung his right leg at the ball and sent it steepling so far skywards it wedged in the lights at the top of the stand. He gave up soon afterwards.

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