Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014

Selecao, soccer carnival’s party drug of choice

Brazil fans wait under the rain to watch a telecast of the 2014 World Cup Group A soccer match between Brazil and Mexico, at a fan fest in Manaus (Source: Reuters) Brazil fans wait under the rain to watch a telecast of the 2014 World Cup Group A soccer match between Brazil and Mexico, at a fan fest in Manaus (Source: Reuters)
Written by Aditya Iyer | Salvador | Posted: June 19, 2014 1:50 am | Updated: June 19, 2014 10:07 am

rest of the evening Javier is going to be quiet as a mouse.

A Mexican wave in ocean

Only, he isn’t. And neither are the rest of his countrymen — a few odd thousand, just a sprinkle in this fest’s ocean. They hold their own during the anthems, just as their side, El Tri, soon do in play. But before that, seconds before kick-off, two Rastafari men with microphones clutched in their hands climb atop large boomboxes, placed a short distance from each other. Facing the crowd, they announce that they will be our commentators for the day.

Together they mike-test. “Um-dois-tres,” says one in loop, keeping it conventional. “Goooooooooooooooool! Brasil! Gooooooooooool” yelps the dreadlocked brother above us, keeping it Brazilian. The Rastafari seems to emit those cool, easygoing vibes that you associate with Rastafarians. Reggae, in short. Then the match begins. Now he’s cool no more.

Angry, he’s cursing, spitting and rapping faster than Dr Dre. Little makes him happy, until the earth below him shakes when Oscar releases Fred into Mexico’s box and the finish crashes against the net. “Goooooooooooooool!” he takes off once more, with eyes closed. And then he opens those lids to realise that it was just the side-netting that rattled.

The chance of the day, however, belongs to Neymar. One-on-one with Mexico’s goalie Guillermo Ochoa, Brazil’s number nine winds up his right leg to break the deadlock. It should’ve, would’ve, could’ve been broken, had an airborne Ochoa not palmed it away at the fullest of stretches. “If Higuita (the legendary Colombian goalie) was the Scorpion, then Ochoa is Superman,” says the Rastafari. “Correct,” adds Javier. “Only Superman can hold back a comet.”

Ochoa holds back a lot more than a comet. He stops all of Brazil itself.

It ends 0-0, only the first time since 1978 that the Selecao didn’t score in a group game. Match over, many walk towards the waterline to catch the sinking red disc in the sky (Porto da Barra is one of the only beaches in Brazil’s 8000 km coastline to face westward, making it sunset friendly), while the rest of us head back homeward.

Behind the church walls, I notice that Julio Jesus is doing raging business once again. When Selecao disappoints, Jesus saves, apparently. His children won’t go hungry tonight.

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