June 1, 2006
It was a long journey from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro. Possibly a bus trip would have sufficed but it was consoling to see that Brasil airlines just have as many hiccups as those in the US. We were expected to reach out Rio base by 11.00 p.m. but never made it until 3.00 a.m. One pleasant sight for the tired eyes the next morning was Bill Scholl, our Sr. Associate Athletic Director. Bill travelled out to join us for our final leg of the trip.
There was not much time to get the tiredness out of the system as we were scheduled to play Olaria, a Rio professional team at 2.00 p.m. The drive to the game was our first look at Rio and it was impressive. The fabulous mountains rising straight up from the sea, the palm trees, the mixture of old beautiful buildings and favellas (slums) side by side, and the multitude of mini soccer fields everywhere. Every spare bit of land seemed to have a little field and most were being used. This final fact possibly is a telling statistic as to why Brazil is the #1 soccer nation in the planet!
It was first to our game where we actually got to play on Olaria’s main stadium. There were minimum people in the stands but it was nice to play in an actual stadium which must have held around 25,000 had it been full. The game itself was a test of endurance because of the late travel schedule the night before but the team responded very well with Greg Dalby scoring early in the first half after Nate Norman and Alex Yoshinaga had played a short corner. The game remained at 1-0 until midway through the second period when Justin McGeeney got his head onto an Ian Etherington freekick. This was a very solid performance and set the team in a good mood to visit a Brazilian steakhouse. This was a great treat. The format was to load your plate with rice, potatoes, salad, etc. and then the waiters would arrive with a seemingly endless array of cooked meats. The variety was stunning, as was the amount. The team had a great time and left suitably satisfied.
From there it was off immediately to the famous Maracana Stadium to watch Botofogo play Figuerense. This was our second professional game and although the mid-week match had a fairly lowly 10,000 crowd it still gave our lads a great feel for this famous old stadium that has held 200,000 spectators in its prime.
Well, it is now into the last few days and with our Rio hotel based right on the beach the team are very excited about the prospect of some serious body surfing!
Here are the stats so far:
ND 1 – 2 Santos U-19s
ND 0 – 1 Palmeiras Reserves
ND 4 – 2 UNIP
ND 4 – 1 Paulista U-21s
ND 2 – 0 Olaria U-21s