Portugal 1 v 0 Angola (World Cup 2006) (11.06.2006)
Day three of our World Cup trip, and we left Frankfurt behind nursing sore heads and headed north-westwards to Dusseldorf which would be our base for the next few days. Dusseldorf is located in the Rhein-Ruhr metropolitan region, and is a city famed as an international business and financial centre. Not officially a host city – but it would form a decent central location to access the neighbouring cities of Cologne and Gelsenkirchen.
After checking into the ‘Best Western Ambassador’ hotel which is conveniently located right next to the ‘hauptbahnhof’ – we decided to travel on to Cologne to see if we could get tickets to see the evening game Portugal v Angola. There is a direct train service from Dusseldorf which takes only 30 minutes – so it was worth the effort to chance our luck – it would also give us an early experience of the city we would be heading back to in a week’s time for England’s final group game against Sweden.
As you exit Cologne station you are greeted by the impressive ‘Koln Cathedral’ – so big it’s hard to fit it all in one camera shot! Still fairly early in the afternoon we headed into Cologne old town, and then onto the fan park which was located in the main town square – Mexico v Iran providing the big attraction.
Portugal v Angola was the day’s late kick off, but we set off in good time to ‘test the water’ for tickets outside the Rhein-Energie Stadion. There were a plenty of ‘touts’ located outside the ground, but ticket prices were being quoted much higher than we’d anticipated for this match. Maybe Angola’s historic Portuguese links made this an ‘in demand fixture’ and we’d taken our finger off the pulse.
Despite using our highly skilled negotiation tactics we ended up forking out 350 euro’s for a pair of tickets situated behind the goal. The tickets had ‘Adidas’ written on them so we were confident we had purchased sponsors tickets – even though they were sold to us by an overweight oriental chap on crutches wearing a shell suit!
As we walked away pleased to have secured two tickets for the match, the realisation suddenly dawned on us that we had just shelled out 175 euro’s each to watch an Angola game! I love my football – but was this taking things to a whole new level?!
To get into stadiums for any World Cup game in Germany you had to pass through at least two security cordons before you could get to the turnstile and scan your ticket through the electronic bar code reader. As you can imagine when you shell out £150 for a ticket – you hope you have purchased a legitimate one and not a fake. This would only be confirmed once you had successfully passed your ticket through the barcode scanner. As we approached the turnstile, a heightened feeling of anxiousness ensued as the moment of truth arrived. Morgo scanned his ticket first and got a ‘green light’; relief all round, he was in; but then I scanned mine, ‘red light’, shit, what happens now?
I was lead off to the stadium ticket office, slightly unsure as to what would happen next. I needn’t have panicked – they issued me with a blank ticket – wrote the block, row, and seat number on it in pen, and took me back to the turnstile.
Expecting a goal fest, and excited at the prospect of seeing Ronaldo and Figo ‘live’, we weren’t surprised to see Portugal take the lead as early as the 4th minute through Pauleta. We were even more surprised though when the final whistle went and the game was still 1-0! Angola had put up a really creditable performance, and most inside the ground had expected them to take a right hammering.
Portugal legend Figo waits to deliver a set piece…
Our journey back to Dusseldorf was horrendous and took us well over 3 hours. We were thankful that the German train network continued late into the night as we arrived back at our hotel after 2am. After three heavy days on it, we were completely knackered, de-hydrated and could have done without a night on a park bench! Hats off to Deutsche-Bahn!