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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 January 2019

The World Cup hosts have one job - to win

The five time World Champions want nothing more than title number six, won on home turf, and the entire country knows the pressure is on to deliver.
These fans in Dubai – L to R Martina Leite Cancio, Waleed Rizk, Nina Stone Angilleeca Mandez,and Graciela Pischner – are all nuts about Brazil and proud of their county’s magnificent footballing history. Satish Kumar / The National
These fans in Dubai – L to R Martina Leite Cancio, Waleed Rizk, Nina Stone Angilleeca Mandez,and Graciela Pischner – are all nuts about Brazil and proud of their county’s magnificent footballing history. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // The country of Brazil is synonymous with football – and the hosts of this year’s World Cup are favourites to win the solid gold trophy.

The five-time world champions want nothing more than title number six, and the entire country – as well as the thousands of Brazilians living in the UAE – knows the pressure is on to deliver.

Only Lebanon has more expatriate Brazilians than the UAE and every one of them is desperate to watch their heroes.

“Football is in our blood as Brazilians,” says Martina Leite Cancio, 28, a professional dancer who runs her own entertainment company.

“When I think about football I think only about the World Cup. Clubs don’t excite me, the World Cup is different, it is real football,” she says.

“When Brazil play it’s a big deal, everyone gets together to watch,” says Nina Stone Angilleeca Mandez, 42, who runs Dubai Capoeira teaching the Brazilian martial art that combines dance, music and acrobatics.

“I’m not really a follower of football but when the World Cup comes, I put on the team colours and all the yellow and green accessories that go with it,” says Milla Tenorio, 37, a dancer and entertainment company owner.

The Samba nation has produced a plethora of footballing superstars, but none has had his name engraved in football history like Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pele, probably the best player the world has ever seen.

Although they like to enjoy their football, Brazilians also take it very, very seriously, warns Ms Mandez. “I remember in the last World Cup I was with about 80 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts in a restaurant in Abu Dhabi watching us play Holland. We lost and everyone was so depressed when suddenly a skinny Holland supporter ran up to us and did a silly dance. I guess he didn’t know that we were all martial artists, and that Brazilians take football very seriously. All 80 of us chased him out of the place.”

“I remember my first World Cup was 1994,” says Ms Cancio. “I remember Romario and Bebeto, I was only eight and didn’t know anything about football but I could feel the excitement and emotion in the room. When we won the final I cried so much, which was strange for me. At eight I’d never experienced tears of joy. But there was so much emotion and happiness, I never thought it was possible to cry from that. I’m getting goosebumps now just talking about it.”

Brazilians here miss our traditional food a lot,” said Graciela Pischner, 30, model and dancer. “That’s why we have Brazilian party every month, at a different location each time. We have people cook special food for us just like back home.”

Ms Pischner’s biggest regret is that she will miss the opening ceremony and some of the game as well.

“I’m working tomorrow at Atlantis. I have a show a 10.30pm and another at midnight. The ceremony is very important for me especially because of Samba, it represents our culture. I’m sure there will be a lot of dancing.”

Many Brazilians plan to watch the game at Zero Gravity at JBR. “We are going to go wherever we can make a lot of noise,” said Ms Mandez.

“I want to be there too, but I’m also working,” Ms Cancio. “I finish work at 11pm, so I’ll just find the closest place to watch. I don’t want to miss any more than I have to.”

malkhan@thenational.ae

Updated: June 11, 2014 04:00 AM

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