Klose but no cigar – Ghana 2 Germany 2

IMG_5205[1]The guy from Rio at the pre-match bar by the Castelao was not impressed.

He said: “Fortaleza. This is the worst regional capital in our country. It is so poor.”

For the first time since arriving we certainly saw the extremities of the rich-poor divide in this country.

And on the pitch, there was a similar stark contrast to see.

Ghana v Germany, FortalezaI think someone stuck some Brazilian rocket fuel in the half-time drinks. Many thanks for that.

The first half was stupefyingly dull. The second so good that blinking was a waste of energy.

Germany began looking to play as slowly as possible, given the temperature was 30 degrees.

Ghana v Germany, Fortaleza
Confident as ever, some fans have mapped Germany´s route already

It seemed sensible but the aimlessness meant Mexican waves were rustled up by the bored crowd within 15 minutes.

The Germans also gave the impression that it would be a matter of time before they scored and that they would score just when they fancied, at some pre-programmed point in the match.

And we would bloody lucky that they had deigned to score at all, thank you very much.

Their tactics were clear. I call it the ‘dink’.

Ghana v Germany, Fortaleza
The Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza

The ball is spread wide and the crosses from the flanks are low and hit to the no-man’s land between the six-yard box and the penalty spot, for Gotze or the goalhanger extraordinaire Muller to run on to.

The keeper can’t really come for the dink without overcommitting and the centre-halves have a real job to stifle the striker or win the ball.

I can’t recall a shot from outside the box, Germany relied solely on this tactic or, when given a corner, a high cross to their big men.Ghana v Germany, Fortaleza

Half-time and it seemed that the Germans would up the pace slightly and score three.

Gotze duly got the first, knocking in a dink between the two Ghanaian centre halves.

Then it got interesting. Two minutes later, Ghana gave us their dink and Andre Ayew’s flexible goose neck managed to propel it past Neuer. Superb effort.

That woke up everyone up because it was so unexpected. Most thought Ghana would crumble pathetically.

But they just started coming in waves.

Things got weird behind the goal Ghana were attacking. A man was wearing a horse’s head.

Fists flew as a group of men dressed in Fred Flintstone-style costumes were booed and jeered by local fans. One was led out, others departed sheepishly.

Then Gyan scored to make it 2-1 and most of the 60,000 went ballistic.

Germany looked rubbish and both full backs were having terrible games. Jordan Ayew shot when he should have passed and 3-1 went begging and I would guess that will be enough to leave Ghana short of a qualifying spot.

Klose came on for Gotze and the marvellous Miroslav did it again. This time with a toe-poke rather than his characteristic headers.

It was enthralling stuff, like an end-to-end quarter-final rather than the second of three group matches.

The crowd really got behind Ghana. It was the day Africa turned up at this tournament.

It was interesting to see Kyle MacLachlan lookalike Joachim Low make some
strange decisions and petulantly kick the ball away when it came near him.

Ghana v Germany, Fortaleza
Fernando climbed over the roof stadium to get in

For the Germans defender Howedes was hammered by the end. Bent over double with tiredness. Both German full backs were totally exposed in a game Germany were lucky to draw.

Then there’s clodhopping Khedira. If he is better than Schweinsteiger, who replaced him after 70 minutes, then I’m Franz Beckenbauer. Surely he played himself out of the side.

Many thought Germany were red-hot chili pepper favourites but it seems they are as beatable as anyone out here.

Pepe the Portuguese headbanger made them look like world-beaters in their first match and though they should win the group, they look vulnerable to high pace. And tired.

Ghana departed to a deserved ovation. It wasn’t a classic. But it was great last 40 minutes.

Fan of the match

Ghana v Germany, Fortaleza
Dirk, right, Roland, left and former Welsh League hotshot Huw

We bumped into a guy called Ross from Llandudno, who gets an honourable mention, but there’s always a guy dressed as Spiderman isn’t there? Even if you go to Whitehawk v Sutton.

Fernando, early 20s, hails from the Porte Alegre area. Long way to come up here. He said: “I have come here for three games, all in Fortaleza. I dress as Spiderman because it makes me happy.”

The crazy Germs were out in force of course and we couldn’t help notice two guys at the beachside bar singing the Welsh fans’ favourite Andy Williams song Can’t Tae my Eyes Off You.

Which of course, Bayern Munich supporters Dirk and Roland learned at a Wales game.

Dirk said: “One times every each year we go to watch Scotland play. We love Scottish fans.

“We love to go to Hampden Park and we were there for the Wales game last year and now we sing this song.”

Yo Mo-fo

Ghana v Germany, Fortaleza
Jason Mohammed shows us his thumb

There were five Welshmen at the game and another one, Jason Mohammed, got in for nothing. We chanced upon him while mooching around the stadium after the game and he gave us a wave.

The 903 bus

To ‘beat’ queues we took the 903 bus back to the centre.

It passed through the poorest parts of Fortaleza – any poorer than this and you’re in a mud hut. The comments of the Rio resident came to mind.

It was a sort of post-match tour of a forgotten Fortaleza far from the shimmering tower blocks and ritzy restaurants on the seafront.

A mother stood in a doorway jiggling a tiny baby, plastic chairs strewed the pavements where families had sat outside to watch the game played just round the corner.Ghana v Germany, Fortaleza

Hookers wiggled their bums at passing motorists. One stood brazenly bare-chested next to the road.

It took an hour to wind its way to the centre through choking traffic that never lets up.

It was all of a piece – a day earlier, a disabled guy had thrown himself and his crutch across the pavement to stop me passing, in a bid to get money.

I walked into the road and his 12-year-old son came at me, hissing. Having not seen it coming it riled me and left me slightly shaken.

There´s a definite, unnerving edge that hasn´t been apparent in Natal or Recife.

On Fortaleza seafront, a father took his toddlers for a paddle in the sea at 11pm. Kids stay out late here.

And, 30 minutes later, four-year-olds were being sent by their mums to tour outdoor restaurant tables, selling sweets.

In Fortaleza, the two Brazils live next door to each other and daily life provides plenty of evidence of the divide.20140622-141941-51581494.jpg


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