TheFA.com’s Nicholas Veevers blogs ahead of the World Cup in Colombia.
It’s been quite a week since my arrival in Colombia on Sunday evening and I have to say, it’s been non-stop but enjoyable all the same.
A long day of travelling on Sunday saw me arrive at the Intercontinental Hotel in Medellin after three different flights and a six-hour difference in time between the UK, but the friendliness of the people here have more than made up for it. Whether it’s the ‘Policia’ who have been assigned to help all four of the Group F teams staying here, the staff around the hotel or even just the locals, it’s clear that everyone is thoroughly looking forward to hosting this World Cup.
The fact that our first game on Friday coincides with the ‘Medellin es Mundial’ festival which starts on the same day and a voluptuous fashion show on Wednesday evening means there is a real buzz of excitement around the city. The place looks stunning at any time of day, with its colourful houses and buildings sprawled out across a valley. It’s hard to believe that this was once a place with something of a fearsome reputation.
The squad arrived 24 hours after me, and I’m sure you’ve already seen the excellent video piece on FATV
of the welcome they were given by the local Police force who performed the local ‘Bandeja Paisa Jajaja’ dance for the players, who were more than happy to join in. Once Michael Ngoo
had led the way of course.
That video clip has spread quickly back home and we woke on Wednesday morning to hear that it had been picked up by numerous national newspaper websites and Sky Sports News, so we soon had Michael live on their evening show to talk about the welcome received here and the experience of a World Cup. Of course, if you haven’t seen the video yet, click on the link to the right and it’s right there for you.
And the media interest in Colombia is even more fervent. The first training session for the players since they arrived in South America took place on Tuesday afternoon and they were greeted on arrival by four separate television crews and numerous national newspaper reporters, all keen to get the lowdown on the squad and how the preparations are going.
Wednesday’s training session at the superb Estadio Atanasio Girardot attracted even more attention with around 35 reporters in attendance and all eager for another interview with Brian Eastick
and forward Callum McManaman
, who is a Wigan Athletic team-mate of Colombia striker Hugo Rodallega.
With a crowd of approaching 45,000 expected for Friday’s opening game with Korea DPR at the newly refurbished stadium, it should be some occasion for all involved and after two weeks of training and preparation, the players are just raring to go and get into the games now.You can follow how things go right here on TheFA.com and FATV, with more video interviews and features to come over the campaign, so keep your eyes peeled.
For more instant updates of what’s going on here, follow @thefadotcom on Twitter or even myself on @NVivas79
And the game itself on Friday is being screened live on Eurosport, kicking-off at 8.30pm BST
Until next time,