Tuesday, February 06, 2007

At The Home Of The Gunners

Some people I know should be so jealous. Yes, this is a shot from inside Arsenal’s new and most spectacular Emirates Stadium, where I was earlier tonight. A place I wanted fervently to visit since I arrived in London. And here I was. Heh.

Well, OK. So it wasn’t the real thing. Arsenal wasn’t on the pitch. Instead, the stadium played host to an international friendly between Brazil and Lusophone rival Portugal. Yeah…a showdown between greats such as Kaka, Adriano, Gilberto Silva on one side, and Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco, Ricardo Carvalho on the other. It was pretty amazing. Ronaldinho wasn’t named for the squad this time round. And it's a real shame we no longer have the chance to see Ah Pui Ronaldo in action.

After a nice but hurried dinner at Los Guaduales, a neighbourhood Columbian restaurant on Stroud Green Road, we ventured forth to the Emirates Stadium, situated barely minutes away from the old Highbury ground. The area isn’t exactly the prettiest part of London, with old tenement blocks, dingy shops and quite a few hoodies lurking around.

But when you turn the corner and come face to face with the spanking new complex, bright and silver, entirely incongruous against the dull and drab grey of the surroundings, you know you’re in somewhere special. And the view inside is nothing but impressive. The players come up close to you, yet the capacity was enormous. The crowd of nearly 60,000 this evening was even more than what Singapore’s National Stadium could handle.

So what about the match? I went in pretty ambivalent and agnostic between the two. I guess I had a slight preference for Brazil, and also I hated the yah yah look of Cristiano Ronaldo. But the five time world champions, under new coach Dunga, played dismally. Reports are available here and here. Was it due to the presence of quite a few Team B players? Or that it was just a friendly? Or that they were, in short, just awful?

Portugal certainly had greater possession in the first half, and when the second started, they had switched to attacking the goal post closest to us. Time as well for me, at least, to switch my allegiances. It was good that Simao was brought on as a substitute, for he proceeded to execute a powerful sideways kick of the ball into the net with about fifteen minutes of the game to go. The crowed had hardly settled, when Richardo Carvalho sent a second one into the Brazilian goal. Fantastic.

Final score: Brazil 0, Portugal 2. I had been dreading a boring nil-nil game. Instead, I think we all witnessed quite a bit of expert footballing action. Now, what I need is to catch the Gunners in action soon.


Anonymous sw said...

I am jealous ...


10:02 PM  

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