December 18, 2014
No lack of passion in first friendly
For the Herald
With the conclusion of the Argentine soccer season, normally the general sentiment surrounding fans tends to one of two things: pleasure or pain. River Plate fans alike have celebrated their blowout championship win against Quilmes, 5-0, teams have dropped down divisions, players have been traded, retired etc. But, all emotions from the regular season aside, if there is one thing certain about the current attitude about the Argentine nation it’s this: they are ready for the World Cup. For one month, Argentina will enjoy no intercultural rivalries.
All of the passion devoted to the sport that has become an integral part of their cultural dynamic will soon be channeled in one direction — with rallying support behind a 23 manned team with the hopes to do something that hasn’t been done since 1986 — win it.
More importantly than the outcome of the Argentina-Trinidad and Tobago friendly match that took place yesterday, was simply the feeling, the passion. Despite the match being knowingly one sided, fans still came out to prepare themselves for the month-long tournament that will most assuredly consist of sleepless nights, ridiculous superstitions, nail biting and constant screaming.
As for the confidence — let’s just say Argentines like their chances.
Upon waiting in line at one of the several parilla food trucks outside the stadium, the Herald asked Armín Castaño, a lonely cook, busy at work, about Argentina’s chances in the World Cup.
After seemingly ignoring the question, slicing chorizo after chorizo, he paused looked up and said, “They’re good.” He quickly resumed his work and continued, “As I see it, the World Cup is less about skill and more about passion. Our team, our country... I like our chances. I say this every four years, and I’m not going to make an exception this year.”
The stadium filled quickly. And apart from the tiny section of Trinidad and Tobago fans cornered off in a distant part of the stadium, fans roared, screamed, whistled, chanted and swore over a match that was supposedly a “friendly.”
Amid the constant chants throughout the game, the Herald happened to catch a single English expletive in the crowd that lead to an interesting conversation between an Argentine and a US ex-patriot, Mateo Harfuch and Jerome Wade. Wade, the ex-pat, who has been living in Argentina for nearly 10 years, noted that although a fan of “pretty much every American sport,” rooting for Argentina as opposed to the United States was a no-brainer.
When the Herald asked him why this was so, he pointed his to the fans, the players and said, “That’s why. I love my country (the United States), but in terms of soccer, its unrivaled.” He comically added the US’ chances were not looking too good this year, seeing as though they have been paired with Germany, Portugal and Ghana. During our conversation, his friend Mateo continued to scream as if he personally knew the players, and as if we weren’t even standing there.