Went to watch the Holland – Brazil quarter-final match at Library Square this morning with Cdn Gooner, who was cheering hard for his second favorite team after England crashed out of the tournament. I have a soft spot for the Dutch, although I couldn’t bring myself to wear the Holland shirts in my small jersey collection. I guess I’m a bit old fashion that way. A one-team man.
We got to the venue a bit early and already there was a small group of Brazilians waiting outside. The place quickly filled up and 90% of the crowd was cheering for the Samba Boys. They were very vocal; chanting and waving their flags continuously. Needless to say when Robinho opened the scoring the place erupted. The atmosphere was electric!
As the match wore on, the Brazilian supporters were getting a bit restless with the match officials, who were all Asians. Cdn Gooner and I knew they were cursing and swearing but it was good that we don’t understand Portuguese because we had no interest in knowing what they were saying. I quipped that we should find the closest exit should the match turn in favor of the Dutch.
And turn it did.
Arjen Robben became Brazilian public enemy number one with his antics on the pitch and people sitting behind us were yelling and screaming every time Robben went down. We noticed this one particular Brazilian fan, who, not only voiced his displeasure vocally but was fingering at the screen and pacing around impatiently, looking really mad.
When Holland tied the match with a free kick as a result of another foul won by Robben, you could sense the anger boiling over in the pub. At the same time, there was an air of quiet confidence emanating from the small Oranje contingent. The tide was turning, slowly…….
Then the unthinkable happened.
Coming into the tournament, Brazil was lauded for having a strong defense. But cracks were showing when the likes of North Korea, Ivory Coast and Chile were all able to score, albeit in losing efforts. This time Dunga’s men paid dearly for lapse defending as Wesley Sneijder, probably one of, if not the tiniest player on the pitch, was left alone to score on a free header. Even he was surprised as he slapped his forehead in delight.
2-1 for Holland.
Euphoria for Cdn Gooner and the small Oranje army.
Dead silence amongst all the Brazilians.
At that point, the Samba Boys began to unravel the same way a lot of past Dutch teams would have when faced with adversity, as Cdn Gooner observed. It’s perhaps the reason why Felipe Melo lost his head and decided to stomp on Robben. Even the Brazilian supporters in the pub couldn’t complain about that.
With 15 minutes left in the match the tension in the pub was palpable as both sets of supporters were willing their teams forward, hoping for a favorable outcome.
One side chanting,” BRAZIL!!! (Clap, clap, clap) BRAZIL!!!”
“HOLLAND!!! HOLLAND!!!” from the other.
As a neutral, I was overwhelmed by the intensity but, really, isn’t that what it’s all about? The fun of watching a live match with a group of passionate supporters who live and die with their team.
A beautiful game, it was.