In Brasil, soccer is something else. Before the game -pardon me- the match- the streets are packed with cars, people in their yellow, green, and blue jerseys sporting their favorite players but mostly coming together to represent their players, their favorite sport, and their home. Walking down the street on the way to our local bar we could smell and hear the familiarity of a party. The sound of far off explosions of fireworks, people singing Brasilian anthems, those plastic horns, the airhorns too, and the flags of various sizes and shape painted on faces or draped from scattered windows in various buildings and cars greet us as we push through the city. Men pedal these flags at the traffic light. He sells them with honor.
This is not like the super bowl where two cities battle it out and loads of people sit around on a Sunday eating their chips and drinking their beer and cheering a team that doesn't belong to them(hey I'm from Los Angeles) But this is for the entire country. People take the entire day off, leave early, close down their restaurant, which was our case,and host their friends or meet up wearing their Brazil gear, sweater, or colors.
On the way to the restaurant cars were honking with anticipation and cheering our their windows. VAI BRASIL! It's beautiful. People are happy. Together they are all happy.
Arriving at the restaurant we see a group of 15 or so already starting the party. Beers in hands talking about the expectations for the game. My friend Felipe and I make a bet that if Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) or DPRK make a single goal he will never smoke again after today. I hope Brazil wins. I know it will happen, but I don't think DPRK has a chance in hell of scoring on this monolith of a team so he takes the bet.
Comencou: it started. This is exciting. When a team is seen playing together for the first time you can see how timid they are regardless of how professional. These players don't typically play on the same team as each other; as they play in their different leagues throughout the year. How could Brasil be playing both timidly and dare I say, with a bit too much confidence? Well Korea played solid defense at the beginning although I wasn't sure if it was because Brasil was finding their rhythm or if Korea was on it. I soon realized that Korea, though they fight hard, didn't have much for offense and my hopes of Felipe quitting his habit were lost.
Watching fans when their player is preforming poorly is one of those things I just like seeing. Hearing them shout horrible obscenities and insults at somebody that later on could potentially win the game brings a bit of clarity of how brutal fans can be.
The most incredible however, and I wish I had video solely of this, were the fan reactions to the missed opportunities of the players on the screen. The tense shoulders. The clenched fists. The look as if they had eaten a sour lemon express the disdain, disappointment, and loss of the opportunity. The sounds that follow follow like a wave of cresting voices rising "YES! YES! YES!" to the low and baritone AAAHaaaoooo of the missed shot paired with hands covering eyes. slapping their knees, shaking of heads, and in worst cases head in hand, or my personal favorite: Hands pressed into their hair. Incredible. Such drama and such sport.
Well the game was a hard fight all the way. Brazil had to work hard for their win. The first half was scoreless, but in the 10th minute of the second Brazilian Maicon shot from the most ridiculous angle and the ball went straight and curved into the far corner of the goal. A miracle? No. I have seen youtube. These guys do these sort of tricks all the time. I am impressed he could pull it off when the game was on the line-when they were at risk of a draw. Another 8 minutes later Elano doubled the score and Brazil doubled their lead.
But then when I thought my hopes were lost, in the 89th minute, DPR Korea, the boys from the North, got their goal! Ji Yun-Nam scored and single handedly put Felipe to the test. He will be a non-smoker from here on out.
Brazil 2- Korea 1 Felipe + or- 1