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World Cup Diary Day 3: Brazil light up the Amazon

| 13.06.2014

I’ve made my way to Manaus ahead of England’s World Cup opener against Italy and experienced the cauldron of emotion that’s fit to burst in Brazil. 

From deep in the Amazon Rainforest I’ve been able to capture all of the passion and intensity flowing throughout the country as Neymar and co ensured the hosts got off to the perfect start in their bid to land a sixth World Cup trophy.

World Cup Diary – Day 3

05:20: It’s time to head into the jungle which means another early start following a day on UK time in the morning  and Brazil time at night.

Still, you’ve got to burn the candle at both ends while you can. The bonus of being up this early is catching a glimpse of the rare sight of a road in Rio without any form of congestion whatsoever.

06:00: The protest that was set to derail the flight has subsided although there is a small but hardy band forming a picket line en route to the airport. Thankfully we get through with the minimum of fuss with the disruption pretty tame by Brazilian standards.

06:20: The award for the loudest fans at the earliest time of morning goes to the Chile boys spotted at the airport wearing plastic Roman helmets in the La Roja colours. (video). Their chanting is pretty infections as I find myself mouthing Chi, Chi Chi, Le, Le, Le in the queue for the gate.

They’re my second team for the tournament following the work we did with Rachel Riley, so hope I’ll be chanting that at a louder volume and more appropriate time as the World Cup progresses.

10:30: The flight over the Amazon is one of the highlights of the trip so far. We’re cruising at quite a low altitude and there isn’t a cloud in the sky meaning there’s incredible detail of the canopy below.

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, but not wanting to fall foul of any ‘airplane setting’ rules, I’ve switched my phone off in full. I’ve always wondered what happens if you don’t do that. Answers on a post card please.

15.00: I head to the impressive amphitheatre-like fan zone. I’m one of only three people not wearing the Selecao colours plus some sort of novelty headwear.

The locals I speak to seem pretty confident of their chances as you might expect, saying once the tournament starts the action on the pitch will unite the country.

The atmosphere’s building in the run up to kick-off and it seems like despite the caxirola being tipped as this tournament’s vuvuzela, the noise-maker of choice is some sort of horn operated with a bike pump mechanism.

16:12: Doesn’t like like 14/1 shots Croatia have read the script as Marcelo gets on the scoresheet at the wrong end. Manaus isn’t fazed though, with a cacophony of horns the response.

17.00: Half-time gives me the chance to move closer into the huddle in the middle of the zone. It definitely feels more like being at a music festival, which this place turns into after the football. The humidity here is really starting to come across now and I’m sweating absolute buckets.


17.26: Neymar sends the crowd into raptures and I’m momentarily cooled down with a dousing of caiprinha and beer as drinks go flying.

17.50: The full-time whistle blows which is greeted with yet more horns and the kind of scenes of jubilant celebration you’d only expect to see in Brazil.

We just don’t do it the same way. After getting the result they wanted the crowd are in no mood to go home and a series of fireworks are let off from a boat just off the beach behind the fan zone, whipping the crowd into even more of a frenzy as the roadies start setting the stage up for the band.

18:00: Neymar’s Golden Boot odds slashed from 10/1 to 11/4 as a result of his opening day double. Brazil/Neymar cup winners/top scorer double also now just 5/1.

19:00: General consensus of the press and twitter seems to be that decisions went Brazil’s way and that could well be a theme this tournament.

I’d say Croatia didn’t look like 14/1 shots against them and despite getting caught up in the frenzy I couldn’t rush to back the hosts at 11/4.

Argentina still the better bet for me at 4/1 with France deserving of an honorary mention too at 22/1. 

19:20: I can’t imagine how much Paul, a Manchester United fan from Skegness is sweating here. He’s got a ticket for the England v Italy game and I wouldn’t even take a bet our TV cameras pick him out. 10/10, sir!


21:00: Festivities roll on at the fan zone and in the main city square where England fans continue to gather.

I’ll have to join in on Friday night though, as the time difference means my alarm is at 0200 local time for an interview in the UK. What was it I said about candles being burnt at both ends?


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Alex Donohue

One third of Ladbrokes' PR team, Alex covers football, politics and current affairs and is also involved in the bookmaker's SPFL sponsorship.
Check out his latest press releases and odds at Ladbrokes News.