Last night, I attended the Japan vs. Brazil game at the Singapore National Stadium. At the end of the fun-filled evening, the match ended 4-0 to the Selecao, with Neymar netting all four goals.
This football match was the first completely sold-out ticketed event at the brand new National Stadium.
Here are some highlights from last night.
Greeted by the large crowds of football fans
The moment I stepped out of the Stadium MRT Station, which is conveniently located within the grounds of the Sports Hub, the gathering crowd overwhelmed me. A sea of blue, green and yellow greeted me immediately. I must admit that I had never seen our new National Stadium packed with so many football fans!
The crowd was even more pronounced when I entered the Kallang Wave Mall, where I had planned to grab a quick bite for dinner. There were people all over the place – and many of them were hanging around Weston Corp, a store specialising in football jerseys. I suppose that everyone had the same idea – to buy Brazilian or Japanese jerseys and other related memorabilia, in the off chance that the players could autograph these!
In fact, so many people had wanted to enter this shop that long lines were even forming outside! And we were still not even at the stadium itself. I must say that I was pretty much taken aback and didn’t quite know what to expect at the stadium itself – because of this.
Heading towards the stadium itself
After a hurried plate of economy rice for an early dinner, I headed towards the stadium. I noticed that many of the gates had relatively long queues to enter, but I was fortunate.
Based on what was printed on my match ticket, I had been assigned to enter the stadium from Gate 9, and the queue at this gate was non-existent. The time was then about 5.30pm. As the match didn’t kick off till about 6:45pm, I suppose the reason was that I was still early.
Overwhelmed by the size of the stadium
As soon as I entered the stadium, I was overwhelmed by the sheer size and magnitude of the place!
Even though I actually had come here previously, when I ran inside during the Straits Times Run last month, entering the stadium was a completely different feeling for me last night, with the football buzz and fervour all over the place. I found out later that there were more than 50,000 fans attending this match.
Soaking up the atmosphere and watching other fans
I found my seat easily and sat down to soak up the atmosphere. Even before the game had begun, some fans were already creating a ruckus. As the stadium gradually began to fill up, the enthusiasm of the match atmosphere grew.
Scarves and banners in support of favourite players started coming out. Many players had hand-drawn and designed their own placards, which was pretty admirable. I realised that a lot of work must have gone into these.
As well, I even noticed a group of Japanese fans displaying a huge banner in the shape of a Samurai Blue football jersey that literally spanned several rows of seats. I thought that this was a pretty impressive sight.
To pump up the mood and atmosphere even further, I also noticed that short videos featuring player interviews about the Japan vs. Brazil match were also being played on the television screens surrounding the stadium. This was probably quite effective in creating the lively atmosphere and pre-match fervour.
Fans greet their idols with fervour
Soon enough, the Japanese players came out on the pitch to warm up, followed by the Brazilians. As the stars made their first appearance, fans were shouting and screaming the names of their favourite idols. I noticed that Honda and Neymar were the most popular players for the Samurai Blue and the Selecao respectively.
As I found myself getting absorbed by the lively atmosphere, I waited anxiously for 6.45pm, the kick-off time, to approach. Soon enough, it came and the screams and cheers from the football fans grew even louder.
Both sets of fans continued to egg their favourite players on loudly, until Neymar netted his first goal around the middle of the first half. When this happened, the Brazilian fans came out in full force, while the Japanese fans went silent.
Fun quizzes and games at the half time interval
At the half time mark, football related quizzes and fun games were shown on the stadium’s television screens and the audience was invited to play along.
This was probably to prevent the fans from getting bored at the interval and gave them something to do. Quiz questions were asked, included naming the current AFC Cup champions (Japan) and the total number of goals that Neymar has scored to date, excluding the ones he had netted last night (67 goals).
Neymar continues to show his dominance
The second half of the match continued in pretty much the same manner, as Neymar continued to show his dominance, treating the match like an easy training session. By the end of the night, the Selacao had cruised to an easy 4-0 victory – with Neymar scoring all the goals.
While the Samurai Blue fans had their head in their hands and were fervently hoping for a consolation goal, the Brazilian fans were very loud and appeared to be all set to party the rest of the night away.
A complete contrast to Brazil’s thumping at the World Cup Semi Finals
The mood of the Brazilians tonight had been a complete contrast to Brazil’s 7-1 hammering at the hands of the Germans, in the World Cup Semi Finals. At that time, it had seemed as though samba football was dead and buried. But now, with their poster boy Neymar back in top form, the hopes of the Selecao appear to have been completely resurrected.
An experience to remember for me
As a whole, catching this match live at the stadium and seeing these players in the flesh was definitely an experience for me to remember. Compared to catching this game on TV at home, the atmosphere was really wonderful.
It was also such an eye-opener to catch Neymar playing in the flesh throughout these 90 minutes of madness. Catching his fancy trickery and silky skills in person as well as the way that Neymar simply cruised past the Japanese defence as though they were non-existent, I was completely in awe of this Brazilian football legend. It really felt so many times more impressive than seeing him on television. It is so hard to believe that he is still only 22.
During the match, I even experienced the resurrection of the familiar Kallang Wave in full force – and this had really reminded me of the old days of the Malaysia Cup that past generations remember and talk about so fondly.
Snagged Kaka’s autograph as a souvenir
Before leaving for home at the end of the night, I may not have managed to get any selfies with the players after the game, but along with many other fans, I did get a small souvenir – in the form of Kaka’s autograph, on my match-day programme booklet. So this was something that I could cheer about.