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Spain, Netherlands prepare for WC final showdown

sports Updated: Jul 08, 2010 18:41 IST

AP
Highlight Story

While Spain and the Netherlands prepare for their World Cup final showdown, Germany ponders the end of its unlikely dream and FIFA looks again at still-questionable security arrangements.

Spain's 1-0 semifinal win over Germany on Wednesday secured the European champion's first World Cup final appearance and finally halted a thrilling young German side that scored four goals on three occasions.

The match in Durban was held up briefly by the incursion onto the field by an Italian fan carrying a vuvuzela and protesting about the exclusion of a player from Italy's squad.

FIFA says the matter is with police and that security will be tightened for Sunday's final. FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot says the breach was "certainly not acceptable."

The world governing body is also looking into the possibility of compensating fans who missed Wednesday's semifinal because of congestion at Durban's new airport.

Hundreds of fans had their flights delayed or turned away from King Shaka airport Wednesday after an increase in private jets contributed to all the landing slots being filled. Even when some planes landed, they had to take off again and head to the old Durban International Airport.

Attendance at Moses Mabhida Stadium was 1,800 below capacity. Germany's young players will be older, more experienced and quite possibly better by the time of the next World Cup, but it is unclear if coach Joachim Loew will be there to guide them. Loew has remained silent on his future after contract extension negotiations with the federation broke down and a decision is expected soon after the World Cup.

Loew says the multicultural group of players he picked for its flair and skill has a bright future no matter who his leading it. Germany reached the semifinals for the third straight tournament despite a lack of experience and the fact that several players had poor seasons with their clubs. It can still finish third, just as it did four years ago at home.

The 2010 tournament is not even over and already some are looking forward to the next edition.

Brazil's top football official says preparations for the 2014 World Cup are back on track, just two months after FIFA publicly criticized organizers for missing deadlines.

Ricardo Teixeira says the situation is "completely different" to when FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke described Brazil's lack of progress as "amazing."

Brazil got hosting rights six years ago but has barely begun building and renovating the 12 stadiums it needs. But there are still two games left to go in South Africa, and both could be classics.

Germany meets Uruguay on Saturday in the third-place playoff in Port Elizabeth, before Sunday's showpiece final at Johannesburg's Soccer City.

Although some of its stars looked short of fitness and form in the early stages, Spain looked against Germany more like the side that brushed teams aside to win the European Championship two years ago.

"We've shown that in the big moments we can grow even more," said striker David Villa, who is level with the Netherlands' Wesley Sneijder as leading scorer with five goals. "We want to make more history in the final."