LIMERICK is getting its share of World Cup fever this week, with hundreds of soccer crazy fans ready to support their national teams taking part in Brazil.
Some 32 countries will battle it over the next month, and while the Irish team are sadly not joining in the party, there will still be a carnival atmosphere across Limerick.
Brazil are hot favourites to win the trophy, and plenty of locals are likely to be supporting the Samba Boys in their bid for glory.
They will be joined by 33 students from the South American nation, who are studying English at the Limerick Institute of Technology, as well as many more at the Limerick City College at Parkway House.
Confidence is high that Brazil can win the tournament on home territory.
Thiago Oliviera, a 24-year-old Palmeiras supporter from Sao Paolo said: “I expect Brazil will win, because we are better than the rest. But I think Belgium have a good team too.”
Fellow student Kellen Aldrade, 21, agrees, saying: “Of course I think Brazil will win the competition. I feel a little sad, because I would like to be there to see the big games.”
Salis Chagas, a 30-year-old jour-nalist from the Brazilian capital Brasilia, has been living here since January, and is equally self-assured.
“Of course [we’ll win], I think we are really prepared. I think we’ll have Brazil and Argentina in the final. I don’t know where I’ll watch the match, but there is a big Brazilian community in Limerick and it’s going to be great,” he said.
Dirlaine Alvares, 30, from Salvador in the north east of the host nation, is also looking forward to seeing Brazil take on Croatia in the first game of the World Cup this Thursday at 9pm. The students from LIT are planning to gather in Smyth’s Bar to cheer on their side.
There will be one team in green many people in Limerick will be cheering for during this World Cup, with the city’s Nigerian population counting down to Monday, when their side faces Iran.
Local election candidate Sunny-Martins Duruagwu, Parnell Street, is confident his homeland can get out of a group also containing Argentina and World Cup debutants Bosnia-Hercegovina. “I will be at home glued to my telly to see the fixtures,” he said. “I am confident we will get through – we are a good team and we only win.”
Castletroy man Kofi Sarsha, originally from Ghana, is confident his country will qualify, despite being placed in a ‘Group of Death’ with Germany, Portugal and Greece. “It’s not that bad. If we get a draw against Germany, it is okay. I think Greece are beatable, and with Portugal, you never know how well they are going to play,” he said.
Ireland’s nearest neighbours England have a tough group of their own – facing Italy, Costa Rica and Uruguay. But Englishman Keith Fawcett, Pery Square, is confident the Three Lions can reach the semi-finals.
“There are lot of new kids on the block, so I am interested in seeing how they get on, and how the manager can bring them on board. It will also be last hurrah for the old guard, so hopefully these guys will really put their bodies on the line and do their very best,” he said.
Henry Street businessman Tim Clements, who hails from Portsmouth, will also be cheering on his native land. “It would be great if we do well,” he said.
Sebastien Loire, 21, from Lyon, has been learning English in Limerick for months, but will be back home to watch France take on Honduras in the tenth game of the World Cup Sunday at 8pm.
While France, who won in 1998 and made it to the final in 2006, are not the favourites in the competition, he says they are still “a dark horse” and shouldn’t be ruled out. “I think they have a chance. They were not the favourites in 1998 also,” he said.
Jose Moral, 27, from Grenada in Spain, said: “Spain will win. The final will be against Brazil and Spain.”
Spain’s first game is against the Netherlands this Friday at 8pm, and Jose is predicting a 2-1 win for Spain.