SINGAPORE - The penalty decision in favour of the host nation was a controversial one, but that was hardly of concern to the 60 people gathered at McDonald's Yishun Safra yesterday morning, as they celebrated Brazil's second goal against Croatia in the 2014 World Cup opening match.
The hosts ran out 3-1 winners, to the delight of the crowd, including 30 Straits Times readers who had won an invitation to the exclusive screening of the game courtesy of McDonald's, which partnered The Straits Times for the project.
Mini-contests were held at half-time for the ST readers and other members of the public present, who joined in the fun despite the 4am kick-off.
Ng Ling Hoong, 46, successfully juggled a football five times, winning the first prize of the day.
"This is a fun thing to have, different people watching the World Cup together. It's definitely better than watching it alone at home," said the Brazil fan, who does not have a World Cup subscription.
His sentiments were shared by the other fans present, who were mostly rooting for the Selecao and who left shell-shocked after the hosts conceded an early goal to Croatia.
Needless to say, the loudest cheers were reserved for Neymar and Oscar, after they scored to allow Brazil to pick up their first three points of the tournament in Group A.
"It was a very enjoyable experience," said ST reader Alvin Yeo, 46, who also won prizes at half-time.
"The prizes that were given out are fantastic and very appropriate for the World Cup season," he said, adding that his son would be delighted with them.
"The atmosphere made it a great experience," added another Brazil fan, Titus Xie, 27.
ST Panel's verdict
Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck (Supporting Brazil)
"This match was the complete package. It had an own goal, a long-range goal and a controversial penalty. Brazil also showed they are very hospitable hosts scoring an own goal for Croatia! Overall, this is one of the best opening matches ever and Oscar's goal was like a piece of precision engineering."
Jovan Koh, McDonald's Player Escort Contest winner (Supporting Croatia)
"Croatia deserved to lose. They did not take their chances and the best they could have hoped for was a 1-1 draw. Brazil were very strong mentally and I don't think any country can stop them at home. They showed why they are the five-time world champions."
This article was published on June 14 in The Straits Times.
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