Second Place Winner, December 2011 Photo Contest
Miami, Largo & Winter Springs !!!
Teams: Chile, USA, R Plate, CC, The "U" and Bucs
COLUMN-Copa offers top-class football without the frills :thmbup:
Fri 16 July, 2004 10:30
By Brian Homewood
PIURA, Peru, July 16 (Reuters) - It is a long way from the futuristic Luz stadium in Lisbon to the Miguel Grau stadium in the Peruvian desert town of Piura.
The latter, with its modest 25,000 capacity, has no giant screens, no mini-theme parks outside with giant, inflatable trampolines and no stalls offering official merchandise.
It does not even have numbered plastic seats, most of the crowd instead sitting on concrete steps, and the only ways of getting there are walking, taking a creaking yellow taxi or a three-wheeled Peruvian-style tuk-tuk.
Yet the football played at the Miguel Grau in the Copa America, including Argentina's 4-2 win over Uruguay in a full-blooded River Plate derby, was arguably as good as anything served up in the more glamorous surroundings of Portugal at the European championship the month before.
In many ways, it is a relief to be spared the endless commercial propaganda and middle-of-the-road 80s hits blasted over the public address systems before games in Portugal.
The Copa America is the third continental championship this year, Africa having staged its Nations Cup in Tunisia in January and the European championship taking place last month.
In the Copa, the standard of play is similar to Europe but with a no-frills infrastructure. Its little eccentricities put it apart from the other two tournaments, seemingly taking away some of its appeal outside the region.
These include the double bill format, in which two matches from the same group are held in the same stadium on the same evening, the presence of two guest teams from outside the region -- this year Costa Rica and Mexico -- and the absence of a qualifying competition.
The Copa also has to compete against another competition in the same continent -- the World Cup qualifiers.
Here, the continent's 10 nations play each other home and away over two-and-a-half years, making it a genuine South American championship. As a result, some nations prefer to use the Copa to experiment.
World champions Brazil have decided to rest top players such as Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Roberto Carlos and Cafu while Paraguay have brought their under-23 team and are using it as a warm-up for next month's Olympics.
But the competition is anything but glorified practice sessions.
Most other teams have brought virtually full-strength line-ups, the standard of play has been high and there was not a single goalless draw in the 18 first stage matches.
At the same time, the siege mentality which dominates in Europe has been largely absent.
It is hard to imagine teams such as England following Mexico's example by allowing local schoolchildren to watch their training sessions and then sign autographs for them while simultaneously giving interviews to the media in the car park.
The local organising committee's decision to spread the competition around six provincial cities in such a huge country has created a logistical nightmare for the media but has delighted local fans, who have never had the chance to see top-level international football before.
The matches in Piura attracted hundreds of curious onlookers outside the stadium who did not have tickets but simply wanted to get close to the big event. The inhabitants are proud of their newly-reformed and simple, but tidy, arena.
Peru has not offered the fancy wrapping that Portugal provided but the basics have all been there: decent playing surfaces, acceptable training facilities -- usually local private schools -- and comfortable hotels for the teams.
Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa said: "We've all had the feeling that the public here is friendly and the hosts have been generous."
Argentina defender Juan Pablo Sorin, who has ample experience in Europe, said: "The European championship has a fantastic infrastructure which we don't have.
"But I'm Argentine. I'm proud to be Latin American. I like to get to know the rest of the continent and these people are our brothers."
Chairman of the BORED © !!!!!& MASTER BAITER ©
In all fairness...if Carson35 IS allowed to copy & paste here..So can I !!!!
Que la chupen., y la sigan chupando !!!!
National Champions. 83 87 89 91 and 2001
Xtratime is FULL of BULLIES, and not enough Indians.
Damos TODO por los Chilenos en el extranjero