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COLOMBIA | Thursday, 8 December 2005 | Views [2071]


After a day of sweaty chaos we arrived at the game barely on time. Carlos had arranged the tickets and there was no way he was going to let me back out of another game. Unlike the players I'd been wearing my generic, nylon, Junior away shirt all day, this had been soaked with sweat and sun-dried at least four times that day and was ripening rapidly. It's a wonder anyone was prepared to sit within three rows of me on the terraces. Unfortunately it was a day of overlapping commitments; We were moving to a new house in barrio Mercedes that day and despite the fact we had booked a truck for 08:00 hours we did not anticipate the running of some sort of marathon race that morning. The police were not letting any vehicles up or down Calle 69 till the race had finished. Only a trickle of taxis were allowed to cross it. STRICTLY no trucks. The police told us it was a bicycle race but as the first contestants appeared on foot I could only assume that either the cops were wrong or these lads had been robbed of their bikes on the way through Centro and were being chased for their trainers. Unfortunately for our schedule it turned out to be a race on foot. Race is probably something of a misnomer, a few of the early contestants seemed to be trotting along merrily, as the field stretched and thinned on the baking concrete most of the contestants seemed to be just out for a Sunday morning stroll, ambling along pleasantly in Somberos and designer running gear that they obviously did not want to ruin with sweat. We hooted derision from upstairs windows, taxi drivers hit claxons and snarled but all this fell on deaf ears. The race trundled on to its inevitable conclusion about an hour behind schedule. the moving truck was a further hour late so by the time we had the move made and ourselves undusted we had a full half hour to get from Mercedes to the Stadium, through a heaving Murillo. Well we did make it and were in place for kick-off clutching quart beakers of the good Aguila beer,(Sponsors of Junior Barranquilla, the Colombian national squad and my newly reborn beer habit), just in time to be infected with the pre-match tension which is OH so important to an enjoyable 90 odd minutes of good footie.
Junior had their backs up against it to qualify but played valiantly. An early and thouroughly well deserved penalty put them well on track and I must say that with the way they were playing they could have been three up at half time. Cali looked a little dazed and didn't really look as if they knew whether to try to cling to their aggregate lead or to try to advance it. At the beginning of the second half Junior came out with all guns blazing and the quite brilliant Emerson Ouna scored a goal that had the Colombian TV pundits still raving two days later. For some reason better known to himself the Junior trainer deemed it wise to substitute Emerson. This threw the whole rhythm of Junior's attack out of balance and allowed Cali the chance to come back and with a single soft goal put the final nail in the coffin of Junior's Cup hopes this year. To be fair I'd say this is the best I've seen Junior play this season. On the other hand, equally fair; it is the only time I've ever seen them play.
Keep it up lads!!! I'll remain a loyal fan to both you and your sponsors.

Tags: Relaxation

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