Kallang alive in sound and colour

Japanese fans, who accounted for less than half the crowd, doing the wave. Despite the heavy defeat, most were happy seeing their heroes in the flesh.

Red and white may be the preferred colour of the Singapore Sports Hub, but yesterday, the terraces of the National Stadium were awash in blue, yellow and green as 51,577 fans turned Kallang into a party zone.

A bumper crowd came to watch Brazil beat Japan 4-0 in an international friendly yesterday.

With this game played out at a neutral venue, both factions of supporters were scattered all over the stadium, turning it into a colourful spectacle.

Some fans brought along the respective national flags and banners showcasing their love for stars like Keisuke Honda and Neymar, while others prepared songs and cheers to encourage their teams to keep going.

Prior to the stadium gates opening at 5.00pm - nearly two hours before the 6.45pm kick-off - spectators were already crowding outside, waiting for the chance to enter the stadium.

Brazilian fan Renata Assuncao was one of the many who arrived shortly after the gates were opened.

"In Brazil, we go down to the stadiums early to have a drink, watch the players warm up and build up the atmosphere with our songs and cheers - and today was no different," said the 29-year-old, a global brand manager who hails from the Minais Gerais state.

Added underwriter Amit Saxena, who headed a seven-strong group of Brazilian supporters: "We came down to get a taste of the atmosphere before the game and it was tremendous, just like how the supporters at matches in Brazil - where I lived between 1992 and 1997 - are like."

Although they were earlier tipped to overwhelm the number of Brazilian supporters, Japanese fans seemed to account for only 40 per cent of the crowd.

The Samurai Blue supporters were by no means less expressive. Just before kick-off, a group of supporters pulled a large canvas banner over a section of the stands, a sight usually seen at league matches in Japan.

Said travel agent Hikaru Kayashi, 23: "It's nice to see a sight that is similar to what is back home in Japan."

While the match yesterday was between Japan and Brazil, there were fans of other national teams scattered around the near-full house crowd as well.

Eugan Chan showed up at the stadium in a Singapore jersey, with his girlfriend donning the same attire as well.

"Football is an international game and since this match was hosted in Singapore, we thought we should represent our country here through this," said Chan, 24, a trainee teacher.

Mexican lecturer Carlos Rios wore an El Tri polo shirt as a form of support for Japan coach Javier Aguirre, who hails from the Central American country.

"We're here to wish Javier all the best in his new job, and let him know that he is not alone here in Singapore," said Rios, who attended the game with his son Carlos, 13.

As the game went on and Neymar started banging in the goals, the Japanese supporters sank in their seats.

Despite the huge loss, there was still reason for some of them to go home smiling.

"I've never been able to watch my national team play live back home as tickets were always sold out," said Kayashi.

"This is a first time for me so no matter the result, I'm still happy to have caught them in the flesh."

This article was first published on October 15, 2014.
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