SINGAPORE - The two women look like ardent fans of Brazil, clad in the team's vivid colours of yellow and green, with stickers and face paint to match. But these Selecao supporters are Japanese.
They are forsaking their compatriots for just this night to cheer for Brazil, in particular football superstar Neymar.
Ms Shizuka, 27, who is from Tokyo, said before the match: "We bought the tickets online and had our flights arranged as soon as we knew that Neymar would be playing. "He is my favourite player and I cannot wait to see him play against my country."
The New Paper asked about the Blue Samurai's fan favourite, Keisuke Honda, but Ms Shizuka's friend, who gave her name only as Ms Mika, joked that both players were incomparable.
The 26-year-old from Yamanashi Prefecture, near Tokyo, said: "Neymar is world-class and just for today, we will forget Honda and support Neymar."
With their unique blue dresses with red straps and Japanese flags, a group of young Japanese girls stood out among the sea of yellow and blue shirts. One of the adults with them, who gave her name only as Ms Takayama, said she had designed and made the clothes for her three daughters, aged six to 11, from the Blue Samurai team shirts.
The 45-year-old housewife, who has been in Singapore for four months, said: "It took me about two hours to make a single set. "All I had to do was to cut out the blue shirts, slip in rubber bands and sew red cloths on for the straps. It was very simple."
Among the other early birds was a 13-year-old Spaniard, Alexandra, who was there to watch her favourite player, Neymar. The Australian International School student was doubly lucky, first for managing to grab the last few tickets online and then for getting the chance to pose for a photo with the Brazilian footballer.
She said: "We booked our tickets late and there wasn't much to choose from. We bought two tickets, which cost almost $400." And she got to meet Neymar when her family dined at Hotel Miramar, where the Brazil team were staying, on Monday. "The team happened to be walking outside their hotel when we were there and I shouted out for him. "He was really friendly and waved me over for a photo."
This article was first published on Oct 15, 2014.
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