Some of the many Brazilians living in Limerick who will be supporting their team in the World Cup, are pictured flying the flag at the Abundant Life Church Pictures: Brendan Gleeson
LIMERICK is getting into the spirit of the World Cup this week, with hundreds of soccer crazy fans ready to support their national teams taking part in Russia.
Some 32 countries will battle it out over the next month, and while the Irish team are sadly not joining in the party, there will still be a carnival atmosphere here as kick off arrives this Thursday.
Brazil are joint favourites to win the biggest prize in world soccer this year, along with Germany, and plenty of locals will likely support the Samba Boys.
While the five-time world champions may be the neutral’s team of choice, Thiago Galici, who hails from Sao Paolo and lives in the city centre, is skeptical as to their chances of winning a first title since 2002.
“Often Brazil are very good at beating teams near to the World Cup. But usually they are not that good when they play in the final,” he said.
Thiago, who will watch the tournament with his fellow Brazilians in Limerick, says his favourite player is Neymar. Brazil open their campaign this Sunday against Switzerland and will then play Costa Rica and Serbia. One side whose fans are just happy to be taking part in the World Cup are Poland.
Wroclaw-born Pawel Garbowski, a pastor at the Abundant Life Church on Henry Street in the city, said: “We have a pretty good team, but we’re not in any way favourites. I hope we will do well, but I’ve no expectations. I would be hopeful to at least get out of the group though.
"We have a very difficult game to open up with against Senegal, and Colombia, again very difficult, then Japan. It will be a tough group, but I’m confident.”
As for his favourite player, Pawel joined up with fellow Poles Monika Debska, her husband Artur and their children Szymon, Julia and Gabriel to as one shout: “Lewandowski!”
Poland do not get their world cup campaign under way until Tuesday next week. Twenty-four hours prior to that, Ireland’s nearest neighbours England will kick off against Tunisia, before facing group favourites Belgium and contest debutants Panama.
Steve Jones, from Blackpool, but living in the city, says his heart tells him the Three Lions can get to the semi-final.
“But my head says the quarter final,” he admits. “I think we will win our group. Things feel a bit different this year. We are due a run of good luck. We have a great team, and hopefully we can all pull together.”
Steve plans to watch England’s games with fellow supporters in Scruffy Murphy’s pub on Hartstonge Street.
And while Ireland will not be present, one green army will – and Nigeria has already broken a record of sorts with the Super Eagle’s latest jersey selling out with three million pre-orders. Dock Road man Henry Onyekechi, who comes from the east of the African nation, said: “It has such a positive vibe around it – and it looks nice. It makes me proud to be Nigerian.”