Fans Friendly: Manaus
A lot of the talk in the build up to England´s World Cup opener in Manaus has been whether the English will be able to cope with the heat and humidity in the Jungle. We decided to put that theory to the test with a fans friendly match against a local Brazilian side. The game had been arranged by Mark Perryman from the England Supporters Club with the help of a local expat, Adrian Barnett, who had sourced the opposition and a pitch at a sports and social club.
Kick off was set for 2pm and the England team was bolstered by a guest appearance from the British Ambassador, Alex Ellis, who started at centre back. With several ´fans-friendly´ regulars also making the starting lineup, England had a strong team and started the game off on the front foot, taking the game to our Brazilian hosts. In the opening minutes England looked assured in possession and kept the ball well, with midfielders Barrie Tullis and Sam Ovenall linking up well on the left flank.
Unfortunately for England, a momentary lapse of concentration at the back meant they were trailing the game after only 10minutes as the Brazilian striker capitalised on a defensive mix up and finished from a low angle on the left.
Despite being a goal down, England were still very much in the game at the mid point of the first half but the heat – 32c started to take its toll as Brazil defended well and hit England on the counter. Several changes were made to allow players to take a breather and take much needed water. The result was the England lost their shape and it wasn´t long before Brazil took advantage, this time by a freak goal as a deflected shot looped high over the excellent Steve Exeley in goal and into the back of the net.
At 2-0 down and playing in temperatures well outside their confort zone it would have been easy for England to captulate but they stuck at the task in hand and pulled a goal back through EnglandFans team regular, Lee Pendrey. Going into half time at just a goal down would have left England in a good position but Brazil didn´t let up and their pressure high up the pitch resulted in a third goal just before half time.
After the break Brazil used the heat to their advantage and started to dominate possession. Only assured perfomances at the back from Graham Taylor and JB prevented the goal tally increasing, as did some excellent saves from Mel who was in nets second half. Brazil hit the cross bar with an absolutely scorching drive and came close on several occasions before increasing their lead to 4-1 about ten minutes into the second half. England puffed and panted their way over the line and it was a relief to get into the bar with a respectable scoreline in tact and in much need of refreshments.
A special thanks goes out to Adrian for putting on such a great day out and to Dave Beverley, the man in the black who reffed the game to his usual high standard. Thanks also to our Brazilian hosts for the excellent food and hospitality + a winning performance on the pitch. Next step, Arena Amazonas for the real thing…. bring on Italy!
A full set of pictures for the fans friendly game can be found here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjYWxvyC