Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Australian soccer after 32 years of waiting
By Bren O’Brien in Kaiserslautern
The electricity of expectation in the crowd at the Fritz Walter Stadium was enough to power the city of Kaiserslautern. For the Australian fans, the tension of 32 years without a match on the world's biggest stage was about to be released, and it told in their mood. Always the professional first and a fan second, I was battling to contain myself.
Helped by the magnificence of the stadium, whose red and white seats were quickly being covered by spectators clad in blue (Japan) and yellow (Australia), the atmosphere was trapped beneath the perspex roof of the stands, giving the impression that much more than the 46,000 capacity had packed the ground.
By sheer numerical advantage, the Japanese fans were the louder of the two, but the Green and Gold Army were doing their best, if sometimes a little unsubtle. 'Who killed all the whales?'
Okay, Australia won, but only in the last five minutes. However there has been some excitement in Australia because the game of soccer is now on the agenda. Though Australian Rules Footie is still the REAL game over here, especially in Victoria where it originated.
Some rugby matches are on too of course and ask any Fijian and he'll know all about that game!