Day 9 : Cameroon v Denmark

What a sleep! After hitting the sack at 6am, I woke up well before the alarm at 1pm. I did not hear half the house leaving for their respective games in the morning. Perhaps they are great at being tired. Perhaps I was in too much of a deep sleep.

With all the African dust, I spent about 20 minutes cleaning my lenses and cameras, making sure I still had all my compact flash cards and telephoned the Austrians to see what time they were going to Pretoria today.

This somehow prompted everyone to get in the car and depart for the city that Nelson Mandela was jailed in. Some house mates were not inspired by this game. I certainly was. I can not understand their mentality. This is the World Cup. It is Africa v Europe. Denmark had a great qualifying campaign, Cameroon manager Paul Le Guen still has lots to prove.

I spent most of my life doing ‘terrible’ games. It’s football. In my experience all the great games of Manchester United v Liverpool, Argentina v Brazil, Dortmund v Bayern Munich etc never live up to the hype.

This was the third time in a month that I had covered Cameroon. I was still waiting to get a great Samuel E’oto picture.

Denmark on the other hand is a sore point! I had flown to Denmark to shoot a friendly against USA. I arrived in Copenhagen anticipation a great match. The only slight problem was that the game was taking place 400km North and there was no way I could get there! I spent a night in a random Copenhagen hotel watching terrible TV before flying home empty handed.

Today was the first game that I was not driving.

Being in the back seat seemed strange.

I was pleased to see that FIFA had listened to our concerns after parking in Pretoria at the FIFA Confederations Cup when after the end of the game the security guards assumed that because the referee has blown his whistle then everyone was going home – including him. He basically left unattended the media compound full of satellite dish lorries and media cars full of expensive equipment. To say we did not feel that comfortable waking through a wood with homeless people asking for money and prodding our bags in pitch blackness is an understatement!

The Kaizer Chiefs play at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium, a place I nickname QPR because of the Loftus name. The ground kind of resembles QPR, close, compact but with a few more tiers. The main stand is a monster like at Kings Park in Durban. Twice as big and twice as imposing as the Steve Bull Stand at Wolves, it hangs in the night sky with four floodlights shining down like an English league ground in the 80s. The cold and damp atmosphere reminds me of nights at Bolton’s old stadium.

I tried once more to get around the stadium and document the fans but yet again we were not allowed. The point of photography is to record and document goings on. It’s a shame when people look back in history they will not be able to see images of the fans outside of the stadium/

Apart from that, Pretoria was a well run venue. I was positioned behind the goal again, this time doing Denmark attack first half. As the teams came out I noticed Song of Cameroon putting his boots and gloves to the side of the dug out. That made quite a nice picture.

Every game so far the matchday mascots have been as tall as the players. Just my luck I decide to get some portraits of Paul Le Guen and forget about shooting head shots of the players during the National Anthem when at this game the tallest mascot was about 4 foot!

It was impossible to scramble my way through 6 rows of photographers so I walked back to my position to find someone has stolen my iPhone case!

Under exposing the Cameroon defence and over exposing the white blonde strikers of Denmark this was a metering challenge of epic proportions!

From the off we knew this was a good game. Both teams going for it. It was end to end stuff. Those who rated this as a Carling Cup Third Round boring fixture and not a massive game on paper were wrong.

Photography-wise it was a great game. I don’t know what it looked like on TV but for us snappers it was a great fixture.

Lots of reactions as strikers failed to score , lots of tight, energetic action and plenty of opportunity to snap library material.

For 85 minutes I was after the “Arsenal” picture – Alexandre Song and Nicklas Bendtner competing against each other – then suddenly they were together fighting for the ball, it only lasted a split second but I got it.

Denmark some how managed to scrape it 1-2. Cameroon are now out. Dejection images were sent out to the newspapers, something that will happen more and more as the tournament progresses.

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We all did a fast and tight edit and headed back home. The others who were doing the earlier games were having fun in a nearby Sports Cafe. I cooked some pasta and watched the weather channel for a while. Seeing the moon with the crescent on the underside and see rain clouds and sunny symbols over places that I did not know exist is strangely addictive.

The others returned and the weather channel was replaced by some sort of South African MTV. It was shocking. We made fun of the music videos before heading off to sleep at 0230h. We can’t just go to sleep, we have to unwind. Its like telling a 9-5 office worker to be asleep and tucked up in bed by 6pm.

I started to transfer a bulk of my raw images to a hard drive. Not only to back up, but also to clear and make way for the forthcoming fixtures this week. My Apple Mac said a completion time of 5 hours. I was not going to stay up and check!

I have no idea on news back at home. I have no idea on what our other photographers have been doing. It’s now Day 9 and all I do is wake up, travel, work, travel and sleep. Every spare moment is spent editing or driving. Not that I mind, but anyone who suggests I’m on holiday deserves a punch in the face!

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