By Daniel Duchene. Respond on Twitter.
Day 18: Qualified at Last
Today was our last day in Manaus, and Brazil’s last game of the group stage. They finally played well.
- Goodbye Manaus
The team spent a total of 6 days in Manaus, and very productive ones. Not only we had a great time shooting the city and its surroundings, but we had a tremendous cultural experience as well. For most of us, this was our first time in the north of the country, that offers a lifestyle hard to find elsewhere. We are sure going to miss the people here. Not so sure about the heat and humidity, though…
This city, that grows everyday in the middle of the oldest jungle in the planet, sits right next to one of the largest rivers on earth. This river, the Amazon River, dictates the life style of this population. Not only, it provides food, transportation, and recreation, it sets the pace for the city’s economy. At this time of the year, winter in Brazil, the river reaches its highest tie. This year marked the 5th biggest flood in Manaus’ history, leaving a lot of places underwater, including people’s houses and some the capital’s main beaches. On the other hand, in the summer, the river dries so dramatically that in some places you can jump it from one side to the other.
- Another humbling experience
We were very fortunate to meet our third character here, with whom we formed a strong bond. Caboquinho, nickname given to him for his obvious indigenous traits (from the term “caboco” which means mixed Indigenous Brazilian and European), considers himself a civilized indian. He works in the Marina as a captain, and has been navigating boats since the age of 6. He knows the river like no one else and has been captain of the biggest boats in the Amazon, including the Zenit, used by Prince Harry during his stay in Manaus.
We had the pleasure to be invited by Caboquinho to watch the game in his house, with his friends and family. He comes home everyday to a humble one-bedroom, with no windows, no running water and with very little electricity. From outside, his house looks like a cube made out of unfinished bricks, but his family of four (and three dogs) lives there happily nonetheless, and welcomed us with hospitality worth of a 4-star hotel.
This showed us, once again, how Brazilians are able to draw happiness from other sources in life, simple ones, despite living in terrible conditions at times.
- The Game
Even though Brazil was already mathematically qualified, they had to win the final group game against Cameroon with a good margin of goals to avoid playing the strong Dutch team in the round of sixteen, first of group B.
Brazil started off playing very well but was unable to score early in the game, despite having many chances, which allowed Cameroon to grow confident. In a lost play, Neymar was able to score a difficult goal that came as a breather for Brazil, who were slowly starting to loose control of the pace of the game. Cameroon tied it a few minutes after, shocking the nation. After some very tense minutes, Neymar came to the rescue again, scoring a goal in a beautiful individual effort a little before halftime.
Brazil came back completely renewed from the break, with the entry of defensive mid-fielder Fernandinho that came in for Paulinho and change the team’s posture once and for all. From then on, Brazil dominated the game and scored two more goals to seal the qualification as first in Group A with a convincing 4-1 victory. Fred scored the third goal, breaking the ice after much criticism from the press, and Fernandinho was awarded the fourth, sealing his great performance. A funny fact that we witnessed about this game was that our character, Caboquinho, had bet on this final score of 4-1. By putting 15 reals in, he ended up making 2,000 for guessing the right score.
In the mean time, as Shaan and I were watching the game with our third character, Caboquinho, the rest of the team and thousand others were at the 3rd street in Manaus, voted the most decorated street of the country. Approximately 80,000 R$ were raised by the community in an effort to embellish the award winning street, that has made a habit of taking on this competition.