Set against the skyline of Doha, I expected a classic in the Qatar Sports Club Stadium. I didn’t get it, but the fans made up for it today.
Jordan had a bus. A big bus. One parked up that the Japanese could simply not get past. The game ended 1-1.
My personal point of view was that this is another example of cross culture coaching that is not working. Just like Capello coaching England, Japan have a new coach in Alberto Zaccheroni who has changed the style of play so much it was no wonder that my Japanese media friends were on the cautious side when I predicted a 3-0 victory – they knew something that I didn’t!
Japan were shocking. Well the Japan that I know and love were. It was the worst I have ever seen them play since before 1999. Their kamikaze spirit has seemed to have departed from their souls. They were playing like Bologna grinding out a bore 0-0 draw against AS Roma.
My pictures were OK today. I’d give myself a B minus. But todays shoot was all about the fans. I certainly did not wake up this morning thinking “must shoot lots of fans” – it just happened.
Hand on heart I don’t think that I have ever been to a game where there were so many women fans.
The light was great, the fans were great, some gorgeous, some charismatic, some photogenic, others intriguing.
Contrast Leeds United skin heads singing “You’re gonna get kick your F**king Head kicked in” to Millwall fans, a right old sing off was taking place in the Qatar Sports Club Stadium in Doha today!
It was like the stoning scene in the Life of Brian where the women were dressed as men screaming their heads off!
The Japanese fans were more polite and reserved, well they are anyway but perhaps they were a little jet lagged!
I woke up this morning still very tired. I certainly don’t have jet lag. I went to the hotel sauna and realised that I am still not 100% in good health. I still have a chesty cough and have not got over the illness which swept through my home town over Christmas.
I was so sleepy when I got on the media bus for the short trip to the stadium. I feel the driver who has driven me now on a number of occasions must think that I have narcolepsy – the coach seats are nearly as comfy as my Doha Hotel bed. I shut my eyes and the lights are out!
However during the game I was very wide awake and shooting fans whilst recording the action on the pitch.
I waited about 20 minutes for this picture. The stadium signage made excellent backdrops and with the low sun, it was just a case of waiting until the annoying man sitting infront of this emotional old lady departed before I snapped away.
Half the girls were preying and hoping for a goal, the others were taking pictures like all Japanese folk do.
Japan scored a last minute equaliser. I left straight away and got the media bus back to my hotel. Yet again, I fell asleep. Somehow I edited 140 pictures from today. The vast majority were action and not necessarily Japan before my colleagues start poking fun at my love for the Nippon nation. I simply do not know if I will ever shoot Jordan again, so I had to make the most of it.
After another 20 minute run in the hotel gym and 40 minutes in the sauna, I broke the habit of a lifetime and actually had some hotel food. The lamb stew was the best, however with a very pricey bill, I shall be eating out where the locals go again from tomorrow! Times are tight.
I am looking forward to tomorrow. I want to be awake and mentally aware. Lots of potential winding up to be done to an Australian Getty Images photographer and some facebook friends who are Aussies. It is India v Australia. I have done the same fixture in a cricket stadium, but never on a football pitch.