Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Day 17 - Snorkelling off Maracajau

I had a lovely, relaxing day today.

Another great brekkie and chat with owner Daniel who offered to drive me to the bus station tomorrow before taking me directly to my next place in Natal (but who didn't manage to find a USB cable for my camera) and then I strolled along the beach to Maracajau village where I met three nice French tourists. I was looking for Daniel's snorkelling recommendation and got right to the other end of the beach before asking a local where the place was. A couple of young lads heard my question and one gave me a lift on the back of his scooter all the way back, almost, to my place! Oh, well it was a nice walk. After a 20 minute wait a group of about ten of us were led down onto the beach where we were led to a speed boat. Most were Brazilians but one guy was Canadian but married to a Brazilian lady. We were handed life jackets before being whizzed out 6km from the coast into the Atlantic where some permanent diving platforms were anchored next to a coral reef formation just 1-2m below the surface.

Snorkels were handed out and instructions given (Portuguese only but the Canadian's wife made sure I understood a few details I hadn't picked up) before we dipped in to explore. The water was not very clear, perhaps because of all the rain we've been having lately, and I couldn't see the coral very clearly but there were lots of fish. I took quite a few photos and film of the in water thanks to my waterproof case but unfortunately I seem to have mistakenly deleted them from my mobile. (Hence no photos today) Anyway, although the snorkelling wasn't great (Cottesloe is far better) it was a nice trip and everyone was really nice and friendly. That was a frustration. All I did was delete a vide clip that looked broken and it deleted the whole folder, about twenty photos/clips. I downloaded some software that claimed to be able to recover files in this situation "Mr fone", but it didn't work. Damn!

At one point, fiddling around with my camera some Reis notes must have dropped out of my case and blew into the sea. I had no idea until one of the guides handed them to me. Again, so much for the miserable Scot's analysis. I had a caiprinha cocktail for the trip back, getting back just in time for the first goal in the Algeria v Belgium game. It was nice just to sit and watch the rest of the first half for that, still dripping wet before having a shower at half time and getting changed. I watched the second half, where Belgium finally came to life to win, as well as the tight match Brazil v Mexico with Washington, a half-Japanese Brazilian from Sao Paulo on holiday with his son and a very smart Bulgarian couple who now live in Vancouver. We had beers and chatted about football, fear of crime and inequality.

I must admit I felt sleepy during the second half and went for some shut eye at the end of the game. I woke up in time for the second half of Russia v South Korea and both the goals.

So not much to report today. Tomorrow I go south to Natal for two days there.

Belgium 2 Algeria 1
I missed the first 25 minutes of this snorkelling but saw Algeria put away a penalty which, from the replays, seemed fair enough. The game looked like it would be the biggest shock of the tournament so far until Fellaini was introduced as sub. Two quick goals restored order and so Belgium can continue to be one of the favourites

Brazil 0 Mexico 0
It wasn't the score many people had predicted but this was an exciting encounter with lots of chances at both ends. Mexico gave as good as they got and deserved a point.

Russia 1 South Korea 1
The final game of the first round of games, played after Brazil and Mexico started round 2 to ease the local interest for Brazil, was another exciting encounter and the third draw of the tournament. The goalkeeping goof-up of the tournament so far allowed South Korea to take the lead but Russia fought back quickly to equalise.

The games are certainly getting tighter and after a exciting start to the tournament, the last 5 games have produced just 8 goals (avg 1.6 goals/game) so the overall average is now creeping closer to the usual average of about 2.5. It's currently now at 2.88 goals/game.

Goal/Game After a bright start, getting back to normal

Socceroos versus Holland!
Tomorrow we have the Group B round 2 games and the next group A game.
Australia will do will not to get slaughtered by Holland, but the expected reaction from a big win for Holland and a loss from Australia is a tight game. I still expect Holland to win by three. 3-0. Chile v Spain will be very interesting. How Spain respond to their 5-1 defeat will determine how they do in the tournament. If they do not respond strongly, Chile could pretty much knock them out. I'm going for a draw. In the other game, I expect Croatia to beat Cameroon to set up a big match v Mexico for the final game, one I have a ticket for, but cannot really get to.

Summary So far after Round 1
This world Cup is whizzing by. We're already into round 2 and on Monday, next week, the final group deciders start. So now we've had chance to see all 32 teams, what can be said? Are there any surprised? Any Flops? Is there any reason to change one's mind about predicting Brazil to win it?

This is a mini table of the best teams so far... Nothing much should be read into it as it's only after one game, with the exception of Brazil and Uruguay, but it does at least list out the winning teams so far.

Brazil A 2 1 1 0 3 1 4 2
Mexico A 2 1 1 0 1 0 4 1
Netherlands B 1 1 0 0 5 1 3 4
Germany G 1 1 0 0 4 0 3 4
Colombia C 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 3
France E 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 3
Chile B 1 1 0 0 3 1 3 2
Costa Rica D 1 1 0 0 3 1 3 2
Argentina F 1 1 0 0 2 1 3 1
Cote d'Ivoire C 1 1 0 0 2 1 3 1
Italy D 1 1 0 0 2 1 3 1
Switzerland E 1 1 0 0 2 1 3 1
USA G 1 1 0 0 2 1 3 1
Belgium H 1 1 0 0 2 1 3 1

Out of those, the stand out surprise teams are Holland (the surprise was the ease of their win, rather than the fact they did win) and Costa Rica. Conversely, Spain and Uruguay would have to be classified as the biggest disappointments.
Of the big winners at the top of that list, Germany and France have to be pegged back a little because their wins resulted from the early sending off and/or penalty decisions that clearly changed the game.
Brazil will have been taken aback a bit by the Mexico game. It was one everyone expected them to win and the fact that Mexico gave them as good as they got has set some alarm bells ringing already. I watched a chat show about it last night, that was basically an inquest in the performance, as if they'd been knocked out. But surely, they'll beat Cameroon to claim the top spot in the group, which may now be more important than we thought. Ironically, the performances of Spain and Holland suggests that avoiding Holland in the round of 16 will be key to them progressing. On what we've seen so far, you'd probably tip Holland to beat Brazil but they should avoid each other, perhaps until the final.
A word about England and Australia. England must beat Uruguay tomorrow to have any chance of progression. If they do it should set up a very interesting final match with Costa Rica, which England could also win. If Costa Rica and Italy draw, bizarrely, England could still win the group and play the 2nd placed group C team (perhaps Ivory Coast) giving them a reasonable hope of achieving their quarter final par for World Cup. It's not looking good for anything better than that, at the moment, because one would assume that in the quarters, England would play either Brazil or Holland.
As for the Aussies, it really looks like they'll be going back to Oz in 6 days time. They have to hope that Holland are a little too cock-a-hoop about beating Spain 5-1 and somehow manage a draw and then they have to beat Spain to have any chance of qualifying. Now Australia beating Spain is a prospect, at least, that seems less ridiculous now than it did a few days ago, but Spain will hardly have become a bad team on that one result. I expect them to rebound with a win against Chile and that means they'll be a force to be reckoned with.


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