A Day to remember!
A year ago today was one the happiest days of my life, since watching the 1986 world cup I’ve wanted to watch Brazil play in the world cup and that was finally going to be the day. Brazil was playing Ivory Coast, one of the African favorites in the tournaments, and a huge crowd was expected. Due to the game being a “big attraction”, security was really tight at soccer city this time! We couldn’t be dropped off at our usual spot just around the corner from the stadium but we had to arrange for a Park and Ride, which was the busses organized by FIFA to pick up fans from specified locations around the city. We got dropped off and everything was going pretty smoothly, the majority of the people were supporting Brazil but one of the interesting sights was this huge group of roughly 200 Ivorians all dressed in official Cotes d’Ivoire jackets (pictured below), the sight of them all walking around is a lot more intimidating than them scattered in the stadium 🙂
We got to the stadium and security was much tighter than usual, everyone was getting checked going everywhere, prior to this game you could pretty much go sit anywhere and as long as no one shows up to claim that seat than it was yours! My friends still managed to sneak in for one half so the close up shots are his. Going back to the game, by far the most crowded game we’ve been too and the loudest in terms of fans, my guess would be that it was 60/40 split in Brazil’s favor.
The game didn’t let the fans down, at least the Brazilians! They started out quickly on the attack and for the most part contained Ivory Coast. In the 25th minute with some neat quick passes between Kaka & Luis Fabiano with the later scoring from an acute angle to send the pro Brazilian crowd into a festive mood. Ivory Coast didn’t really get into the game until the last 7 or 8 minutes of the first half when they had their first shot on net. Brazil went into the dressing room protecting that one goal lead. The second half started the same way the first did but this time Brazil capitalized on a second goal five minutes into the half, Luis Fabiano had scored a spectacular individual goal were he lobs and controls the ball over several players before smashing the ball into the back of the Ivorian net. At this point, FIFA had banned replaying any controversial goals on the screens inside the stadium and for all we knew it was a legit goal because those were the replays we saw. Later on we found out that there were other angles that clearly show that he handled the ball before scoring the goal and that should not have counted.
Ivory Coast tried to get back into the game but unfortunately for them Brazil wasn’t about to let up anytime soon. In the 60th minute, Kaka crossed the ball into the path of a running Elano who only manages to deflect the ball into the back of the net for the third time for the Seleção. The game got aggressive and Ivory Coast was able to get one back with a Drogba header in the 79th minute. It was yellow card mayhem for the rest of the match, Kaka managed to get booked twice within 3 minutes and receive his marching orders by the 88th minute, the 2nd card in particular was controversial as it appeared that there was a lot of embellishment by Keita (a Barca player, no surprise?!?!) Anyway the red card didn’t hurt that much because Brazil had already clinched a birth in the next round and only needed a tie to win the group over Portugal.
The ride back home was quite interesting! It took us quite sometime to get on a bus and get back to our park and ride station. We waited and waited and waited and waited for our taxi to show up after him confirming time after time that he is only 10 minutes away but to no avail, he never showed up. We were forced to pick a taxi from the street who wasn’t familiar with our area very much, he ended up taking us through downtown Johannesburg around midnight and let me tell you that its quite a scene. Its a complete ghost town, very seldom can you spot someone and if you do, you don’t generally get the “safe” feeling. We managed to get home safely and it was quite an experience. A day that I will always remember…..