x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

The thunder from Down Under

The list of Brazilian-born footballers who have earned a second passport to play for another nation's team is long.

Mauro Quintana, left, like Peter Chadwick, is backing Australia - unless they meet Mauro's beloved Brazil.
Mauro Quintana, left, like Peter Chadwick, is backing Australia - unless they meet Mauro's beloved Brazil.

The list of Brazilian-born footballers who have earned a second passport to play for another nation's team is long. Mauro Quintana, 40, may not have as big an impact on the Australian national team as big-name Brazilians have had in the past, but his friends from Aussies Abroad, a social organisation promoting Australian culture in the UAE, say they will certainly appreciate his support during their 2010 campaign.

Peter Chadwick, 50, Mr Quintana's neighbour, said he is also glad to have the Brazilian to lean on in case Australia is knocked out of the tournament. "You know what Australians are like," he said and chuckled. "If our team drops out, 'who is the next best?' Well, I have a Brazilian mate, so I'll support them. "That's one of the beauties of being Australian and having a multicultural background." Mr Quintana, a stay-at-home dad, moved with his Irish wife and two children to Abu Dhabi from Australia more than a year ago after living there for 13 years. They are both Australian citizens, and live in the area near Fourth and 31st streets in the capital

The only Brazilian member of Aussies Abroad said he would be supporting the Socceroos on Sunday. Should the two nations meet in the tournament, however, he knows where his allegiances will lie. "Because I live in an Australian-based community, I just really like to hang around here, mainly with Peter," he said. "I just hope [the Australians] get somewhere, but my heart is in the right place [with Brazil]."

For Australians in the UAE, this World Cup holds special significance. Their country has a bid in to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022, going up against nations such as England, Mexico, the United States and Qatar. Fifa, the sport's governing body, will make its decision in December, and Australians here are eager to boost their country's chances. The Australian Embassy and Aussies Abroad will host an event at Cooper's Bar and Restaurant on Sunday, before their team's tournament opener against Germany, to promote the bid.

Aussies Abroad is planning to host all other Australia matches as well, said Mohanned Hourani, the president of the organisation, so Australian expatriates can enjoy the matches together. "For the last World Cup, we were watching it when Australia beat Japan," Mr Hourani recalls, referring to the group-stage match win that helped Australia to advance to the knock-out stages. "I mean, we were in tears. It was a fantastic atmosphere and this is what we want to repeat this year as well."

Mr Hourani, 47, is hoping the team can build on the success of their last campaign. Australia are making their third - and second consecutive - appearance in the World Cup finals, and are ranked 20th in the world by Fifa. In Germany in 2006 they were moments away from a penalty shootout in a quarter-final match with Italy when the Italians were awarded a penalty for a challenge in the area. "I think Germany are going to be quite tough, but this is the World Cup and anything can happen," Mr Hourani said. "I feel very good and very strong about the Aussie team this year."

mchung@thenational.ae