EuroCup 2008 Qualifier, Azerbaijan-Belgium
Baku Travel Blog› entry 58 of 119 › view all entries
November 21st, 2007 – by: mickeyd302
I will be the first admit I do not know much about what the rest of the world calls football, although I do count Shaolin Soccer and England's Mean Machine as some of my favorite movies.
I took the Metro to the ticket office Monday afternoon. I had some scalper trying to sell me a 1 Manat ticket for 10 Manats. He claimed that the match was sold out. For some reason I did not believe him. I went to the ticket booth and got a 5 Manats ticket for 5 manats.
Tickets for matches here are very reasonable. The prices are 1, 3, 5 and 10 manats for stadium seating, but VIP tickets are 50 manats.
I took the Metro once again to the stadium area. The area outside of the stadium is not well-lit and the crowd was dense. A strong police force was present. I had to cross three lines of police officers before getting into the stadium. Each officer checked my ticket and checked my camera bag. The section numbers within the stadium is a little screwed up, but I eventually found my gate.
My main reason for going was to experience European football. While Azerbaijan is ranked something 116th in the world, their fans are just as dedicated as most other countries i am assuming. The stadium was about 3/4 full, which was impressive for a very chilly night.
Most of the fans were cordial even if they thought I was from Belgium. i was even wearing an Azerbaijani scarf, but I definately do not look Azeri.
Azerbaijan missed some golden opportunities in the first half. They were very aggressive, but could not finish. One time they had the Belgium goalkeep out of position and the Azerbaijani player from the obvious shock of seeing a wide open net totally shanked a sure goal. I found myself screaming at the top of my lungs several times. At the end of the half, the score was tied 0-0.
Beginning the second half, a cold and hard rain fell for 15 minutes. Some of the crowd left, but I decided to stay. Belgium scored the sole goal of the entire match. Eventually the rain let off, but Azerbaijan was out of gas and really could only muster a few more scoring opportunities, but most of those ended with too powerful shots that sailed over the goals.
I took the Metro home. Someone decided to only have one door open to get into the Metro. This caused a mass of testoerone induced shoving to get to the one opened door. I was caught in the middle of the human hurricane. My left calf must have looked like a football because the guy behind me kicked it several times. Somehow in the swirl of arms, bodies and legs, I got to the open door with very little damage to myself. I made it home fine.
This was my first live experience of a non-American football match ever and i had a blast. I will admit that the World Cup drew my interest a few years ago while watching it on TV, but being a part of a real crowd and really getting into the game is something that really made it an experience that I will not soon forget. I think that now I will have to seeing some big-time UK or Latin American professional football as a future travel dream.
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