Colombia v. Peru – Medellin’s First World Cup Qualifier

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Estadio
Estadio
Player Annoucements
Player Annoucements

Last week, Medellin had the privilege to host its first World Cup qualifying match, ever!

The opponent was the rather weak Peru, and despite Colombia’s low standing in its group, the paisa fans came out in full strength to support the home team.

I met up with Sirley at the Estadio metro, surprised to see it was a family outing for her.  I was introduced to her Dad and brother, both BIG soccer fans.

Sirleys dad and brother walk past the riot police (aka Robocops)
Sirley’s dad and brother walk past the riot police (aka Robocops)

The first benefit of going with them was they knew a way to bypass the long, winding line near the stadium’s entrance in front of the metro.

We just walked down the street a bit, and in through the gate where I bought my ticket (Oriental section) earlier that morning for a notable 70,000 COP.

We were patted down and given the all clear to proceed.  We were a good hour and a half early, but the stands were already filling up for the 6pm kick-off.

We walked around the stadium to the center of the Oriental section, and were patted down by security guards a second time.

Once inside, we waited in line to pick up some yellow Aguila beer plastic things.  I wondered why we bothered, and was anxious to secure a good seat, however I felt like the guest and followed Sirley’s lead.

Her and her family had been to a lot more games than me!  It turned out the plastic device is blown up and then used to make a loud noise, kind of like clapping but achieved by smacking two balloons together.

The stadium was filled with people wielding these devices, and once the game got started, I found them a lot more effective at making noise then mere human hands.

Me, Sirley, her brother, and dad
Me, Sirley, her brother, and dad

The sun was beaming across the stadium at us as we sat down right near the center of the upper deck section of Oriental.

Our four seats were right near the portal entrance so there was a lot of foot traffic before the game and during halftime, but the view was otherwise perfect.

Unlike the other games I’d been to, there were no vendors selling soda or food in the stands.

I wonder if that is some type of FIFA rule related to World Cup games, but as Sirley commented, it meant a lot of vendors were losing out on potential income.

We each got BBQ chicken on a stick, which is accompanied by a boiled potato, arepa, and side of salad.

The Colombian-style hot dogs are too messy for me.  And I still miss being able to enjoy a game with a cold beer in my hand.

Sunset
Sunset

A marching band came out before the game began, as did a group of Aguila models, both groups walking around the stadium.

When the players hit the field, the stadium erupted with confetti and streamers thrown onto the field.

After play began, Colombia came out aggressively and should’ve scored at least a goal or two in the opening ten minutes, but failed to capitalize on opportunities.

I quickly learned Sirley can yell with the best of them.

As the first half went forward, the sun slowly set behind the clouds and mountains, providing relief from the heat.  The twinkling little lights on the mountains began to light up.

Meanwhile, on the field, Colombia scored the one and only goal of the match.

At halftime, I went in search of ice cream but they didn’t have the kind I liked so I settled on a bag of potato chips and a Coke.

World Cup action under the lights
World Cup action under the lights

There were no problems that I saw with fighting, which meant the Robocops probably had a tranquil night.

In general, the crowd seemed very friendly and upbeat.  Of course the cost of the game was higher, so that may have helped to keep out some of the riff-raff.

Towards the end of the match, Peru was getting a lot of opportunities in front of the Colombian goal.

The whole match was suddenly a nail-biter for the wrong reasons, but Colombia prevailed and won their first World Cup qualifier held in Medellin!

This marks my third soccer match in the city and all three have been a real treat.

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