Last night Keenan and I went to our very first football game in London (that would be soccer for all you Americans) with our group of Brazilian friends to watch an International Friendly between Brazil and Ghana.
Donning the Brazilian colours of blue, green, and yellow, we made our way to Craven Cottage (home of Fulham F.C.) located on the banks of the River Thames in borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. The stadium was surprisingly simple with old wooden seats and very small with a capacity of just over 25,000. We didn’t mind as the intimate atmosphere gave the spectators good views of the pitch even from the “nose bleeder” seats.
Keenan and I arrived early to watch the Brazilian national team warm up. A stone’s throw away was Flamengo-star player Ronaldinho stretching his hamstrings, while Santos’ Neymar was passing the ball around to fellow countrymen Lucio, and Lucas was found dribbling the ball along the sidelines. On the other side of the pitch was Ghana, the team that knocked Team USA out of the World Cup last year and was later defeated by Uruguay in a thrilling quarter-final game which ended in missed penalty kick by Asamoah Gyan, who didn’t play in this Friendly due to injuries.
I’m no football expert but my overall impression of the game was it was a bit slow with a few glimpses of thrill including: the goal that was ruled as offside; double yellow card against Ghana’s Daniel Opare within 30 minutes of the game; Neymar’s missed header some 10 yards from the goal; Ronaldinho’s brilliant free kick which was tipped by the hardworking goalkeeper; and of course, the one and only goal scored for the evening by Brazil’s Leonardo Damiao at the 45th minute.
Brazilians are huge football fanatics and the crowd did not disappoint with the Brazilian supporters chanting “Brasil, Brasil, Brasil!.” The atmosphere was fun and jovial – the audience doing the “wave” around the stadium, bantering with Ghanaian supporters, and samba dancers entertained the crowd at half-time. It was a lot of fun! A hilarious moment was at the conclusion of game when a fan made his way on to the pitch and managed to run the entire length of the field (and back!), dodging security guards along the way as if he was playing American football! Hilarious...
This was a much-needed win for Brazil after a disastrous quarter-final exit in this year’s Copa America, losing to Paraguay in penal shootouts (0-2) and then losing to Germany in another International Friendly in August 2011. We’re happy to share this sweet victory with our favorite Brazilians. Wish we had