Vamos Argentina!

A Kiwieye view of Argentinas 2002 World Cup Campaign.

Part IV - World Cup Final: Brazil Vs Germany - The view from Rio

Beautiful city, beautiful people, beautiful game.


The banner says “Winter Party” but its 30 degrees and it sure doesn’t feel like winter here on Rio de Janeiro’s stunning Copacabana beach.

Its 8.00am on Sunday and thousands of Brazilians are here at Copacabana standing under the hot sun decked out in the yellow and green of the national team and watching the giant screen images from Japan as Brazil attempt to win their fifth world cup in the “Beautiful game’s” dream final against Germany.

Rio de Janeiro must be the world’s most spectacular city with its sweeping golden beaches, stunning rocky peaks, hills clad with tropical forests, and tree lined avenues with beautiful Portuguese architecture. There can be no better place than Rio to watch the final and experience Brazil’s “futebol” passion.

On the way into the city from the airport on Saturday its impossible not to be amazed at the sheer magnificence of the city, rugged mountains rise up on all sides as the motorway sweeps across the harbour, twists and turns up and down hills, and streaks through tunnels on a majestic Rio day.

Brazilian flags and banners of all shapes and sizes are hanging from buildings and green and yellow ribbons have been strung across many streets, it seems like every second person is wearing a Brazil soccer shirt. The “Cariocas” as Rio residents are known, are happy, smiling with anticipation, and confidently looking forward to tomorrow’s final.

My taxi driver is in a buoyant mood and as he cuts in and out of traffic and speeds along Rio’s crowded streets, his eyes are gleaming and his voice singing as he tells me about Brazil’s team of stars and predicts a 2-0 win for the “scratch”

An hour or so after arriving I’m standing on a wooden platform more than 500 metres up a tropical green hill at São Conrado wearing a harness and strapped to a hang glider, my pilot stamps his foot in the dust and seeing that the wind is right tells me to start running.

My legs have been shaking for what seems like forever as we wait for the right wind but now they click into action and I run 15 metres and off the end of the platform. My stomach has been left behind somewhere and adrenalin is screaming through my veins as we soar into the silent sky.

It’s pretty hard to describe the feeling as we glide on thermals and turn lazy circles in the sky, floating motionless and then swooping like an eagle down towards the beach and ocean far below. Flying over luxury houses with swimming pools, apartment towers, and the endless sea the feeling is of complete bliss, it’s like waking up in the middle of a dream.

When we land on the beach I can’t hear anything, I’m buzzing all over and my senses have gone blurry. I wonder whether this is what 180 million Brazilians will feel if Brazil wins tomorrow’s World Cup final.

As the game gets underway the crowd at Copacabana begins to shout and cheer, they call encouragement to their players and not so nice things to the Germans and the referee. The game is as tense as you would expect from the two most successful teams in history.

After half an hour Ronaldo gets through the tight German defence but his shot slices across the goal and goes behind for a goal kick. Right on halftime Kléberson fires in a shot that beats German keeper Oliver Kahn but hits the goalpost and is cleared to safety.

Every time Brazil gets close the crowd gets noisy.

The halftime whistle goes with Brazil playing well and looking the more likely to score, expectation in the crowd is high as the samba drums start up and the music and dancing help calm frayed nerves.

Germany come out firing in the second half are straight onto attack and receive a free kick. The crowd gasps as keeper Marcos just gets his fingertips to Neuville’s shot and the ball rebounds off the upright. The relief however is only temporary as Germany keep pressing forward but the Brazilian defence is up to the task.

Brazil win a free kick just outside the area, fingers are crossed, prayers said and special rituals made in order to try and help the ball into the net, but it is all in vain as Ronaldo’s attempt is deflected harmlessly off the defensive wall.

With 20 minutes gone in the second half Brazil start to move forward, Ronaldo gets close before Rivaldo fires a low shot at the German goal and keeper Kahn makes his first mistake of the tournament and spills the ball. Ronaldo is right there and taps the ball in to the net.

Gooooooolllll! Brazil 1-0!
The crowd explodes, everyone is screaming, jumping, hugging, and sharing high fives as they get a sniff of a fifth World Cup victory.

Shortly after the goal sellers appear from nowhere selling caps and banners emblazoned with the words “Brazil 5 time World Cup champion”, a clear reflection of the crowds optimism with 25 minutes remaining.

Brazil are now passing the ball around and attacking with a combination of pure skill and supreme confidence, they move forward with Kléberson and Rivaldo leading from the front. Rivaldo slips a magic pass to Ronaldo who glides the ball into the net.


On the field the players embrace in a dance of pure joy, they know that at 2-0 the cup is nearly in the bag. At Copacabana the beach erupts again and the noise cancels out everything.

Its pure emotion, and its expressed with voice, body and soul.

Its Ronaldo’s eighth goal in this World Cup and he is now equal on 12 with the incomparable Pelé as Brazil’s leading scorer in World Cups.

The last 15 minutes are gone in a flash, Brazil try for a third goal, and Germany have their chances too, 2 minutes stoppage time are played with no change to the score.

The final whistle blows and Brazil are world champions for the fifth time!

At Copacabana the crowd leap into the air and raise their arms in victory, from lungs and soul come shouts and cries of all types filled with the joy of a football explosion.

Everyone dances and jumps together in group hugs, strangers are friends. I share hugs and hand shakes and back slapping with Brazilians of all ages.

The noise goes on and on, the Samba drums start up and everyone is dancing, fireworks explode in the sky, and shouts of “Pentacampeao” ring through the air. The smiles are endless and it feels like flying, strangely floating in silence despite the thunderous noise.

On the big screen Brazilian captain Cafu lifts the World Cup trophy to tumultuous applause from the 70,000 gathered at Yokohama’s “International Stadium” and at Copacabana a replica trophy is held high and kissed among the vibrating mass.

Cars are tooting, flags are waving and the celebrations are just beginning, those that watched the game inside are pouring on to the streets and joining in the singing and dancing. Carnival trucks with platforms for dancers and huge speakers provide music for the pulsing streets.

Kids start pick up soccer games on the beach and try to emulate the goals of Ronaldo and win their own World Cups. Others head down to the water and dive in and feel the refreshing joy of the cool ocean wash over them in powerful waves.

Its easy to be happy here in this paradise and I get the feeling that even if Brazil had lost the people here would be happy and having fun and making the most of life.

After a swim my girlfriend and I walk the crowded footpaths, we shout, shake hands, and wave to the happy crowds. Parties are raging on street corners and from apartment balconies young and old are waving and celebrating. Music is blaring and car horns ring through the air.

Stunning beaches Ipanema, and Leblon are packed with joyous fans, the boardwalks are a sea of yellow and green flags, banners, and “futebol” shirts and the parties go on and on. Friends and strangers greet each other in the street and beautiful women with dazzling eyes and radiant smiles dance samba and flamenco.

In this most beautiful of cities Brazilians are celebrating winning the planet’s most important sporting event for the fifth time, the sun is shining, and faces and hearts are smiling. The celebrations will go on for a long time, maybe forever, there may not be a World Cup win to celebrate everyday but here in Rio every day is worth celebrating.

As the plane takes off from Rio airport heading back to Buenos Aires I close my eyes, and a sea of green and yellow flashes across the back of my eyelids and shouts of “Brazil Champion” echo through my head. The game may be over but the next World Cup is only 4 years away.

“Brasil, Campeão do mundo”


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