Masks, monsoon and Mariachi – Mexico 1 Cameroon 0

Mexico v CameroonIf we come back again in another life – don’t worry I’m not a believer – maybe it would be good to be Mexican.

So many questions. Are they born with the wrestle masks on? Are the Mitchell Johnson moustaches for real? I was tempted to tug one to test it. Are they always like this – hyper-crazed monomanical footballholics.

What an amazing day out you get with the Gimp Nation at the football. They were absolutely bonkers bazonkas.

Make no mistake, this game was a minor miracle.

In Wales we’re used to the wet. This was like nothing else I’ve experienced.

The rain was more than torrential. That word is inadequate. It started about 6am and was still smashing it down 12 hours later. It felt like the Amazon had been diverted.

Within two minutes of venturing outdoors everyone was soaked to the skin. Lucky the rain’s warm out here otherwise there’d be a pneumonia epidemic in Natal right now.

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We left for the stadium at 11am by which time I was convinced it would be called off or postponed and we wondering if we’d have to miss Ivory Coast v Japan to stay for the rearrangement.

I was also worried that my ticket would rot to bits as a result of the water it had ingested through my coat. This was a serious concern.

Mexico v Cameroon
Gustavo channels Mitchell Johnson

The bus surfed to the game along a road river. It slooshed waves against the kerb and the waves rebounded back into the road.

You wondered if you could have swum to the stadium. I swear I saw a shark swimming up the street but window condensation obscured the view.

It was a day when a passing vehicle would shower you with rain that would spoil your day if you were in the UK. Over here, you barely shrugged when another car drenched you with a puddle.

But that’s enough of the weather bulletin.

Estadio das Dunas

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The charming, off-white stadium has the appearance of giant sea urchin that has climbed onland, scaled the glorious dunes and plonked itself in the middle of town.

There were still piles of bricks within the stadium boundary, entrance was chaotic and one of the outlets selling World Cup tat couldn’t flog you anything because the network was down.

Two ends were open to the rain and hundreds sat through the whole game in the storm.

Most of the 39,000 retreated to the covered areas.

This was a like a home match in the Azteca for Mexico. Maybe 25,000 were at the game and they were bananas all the way.

Every time Cameroon’s keeper lined up for a goal-kick everyone waved their hands in the air and roared ‘Puto’.

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This was pretty funny til the Mitchell Johnson lookalike in front of me told me it meant: ‘gay’.

So, bit of equality training needed down Mexico way. How about ‘cabron’

Anyway, given the rain, the atmosphere was remarkable. I don’t think even the Dutch could have sustained the level of support in the driving.

The Mexicans sang and danced in the rain like it was nothing special. We[ve all done it back in the UK but that was on a different level entirely.

Fan of the match

Mexico were great. This guy topped the lot.Mexico v Cameroon

In block 232 he was one of two Cameroons and easily the stand-out performer. Halfway through the first half he jigged down to the spot above the terrace opening to prance around and urge his gang on.

People queued up to blow horns behind his back and jeer. But he gave it back with gusto and at half-time a queue formed to have their photo taken with him.

Eric Nyakbo, 36, is a doctor in Chicago.

He told me: “I left 20 years ago to train in the US and stayed. I am an English-speaking Cameroon. Most of the country is Francophone but the English had a presence in the country before France took it over.”

Amazing what you learn at a football game.

Cameroon

Italia 90’s defining moment for this fan was the emergence of Cameroon.

Dubbed the Loony ‘Roons by The Sun, Roger Milla’s goal celebration was followed by what we used to call at school a ‘pile-on’ player mountain that was hilarious. Never been bettered or higher, it should be compulsory after every goal.Mexico v Cameroon

They chopped and bullied the Argentinians – oh, the irony – in a fantastically exciting opening game, winning with nine men on the field in a game Claudio Cannigia was lucky to survive with all testicles intact.

Only the gimlet-eyed, cold killer instinct of the brilliant Gary Lineker dragged England through as winners of the quarter-final, ultimately killing the romance of that tournament stone dead.

So, the Cameloons lost but if you didn’t warm to them and their kit – they still have the best togs 24 years later – well, it was proof you didn’t like football.

But, unfortunately, their day has gone. The taxi driver from the game said they were poor and it’s a shame to agree.

 

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