The count-down of the 2014 FIFA World Cup concluded to signify the beginning of the world’s biggest sporting event. Despite the troubles faced by FIFA, Brazilian government and local organizers, the event got off to a glittering start and the 25-minute opening ceremony was immediately followed by the first World Cup game between Brazil and Croatia. The dazzling show was attended, among others, by Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
After taking World Cup organizers to a temporary ransom, pop superstar Jennifer Lopez relented to the great relief of the FIFA committee. After her sudden scary announcement of turning her back to render the official World Cup song, JLo obliged her fans. She led the troupe of 600 exotic dancers, gymnasts, trampolinists, marshal art specialists and stilt walkers and in the company of Brazilian rapper Pitbull and singer Claudia Leitte, rendered the world cup theme song Ole Ola. Since the event was hosted in daylight, the fireworks were kept to a minimum. Meanwhile in New-Delhi, India’s new Prime-Minister, Narendra Modi chose to release postal stamps to commemorate the 2014 FIFA World Cup and said that sports bring the spirit of amity among the nations of the world. Earlier in the morning, about 300 protesters had gathered outside the ground in Sao Paulo to reiterate their objections against huge sums of money spent on football infrastructure rather than nation building activities. But police used teargas and rubber bullet shots to disperse them. Following the incident, FIFA explained to those present in the stadium that the mega-event was aimed at establishing world peace by bringing nations together.
The glamor queen J-Lo appeared in a carnival-friendly and revealing green outfit along with rapper Pitbull. These two were soon joined by Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte to sing the official World Cup theme song Ole Ola, (We Are One). The impressive ceremony was organized just before the World Cup inaugural match between hosts Brazil and Croatia. Since the participation of JLo was shrouded in mystery after media reports of the last few days, her appearance provided a great relief to the spectators as they saw the super-singer coming into open view from inside a giant and glowing LED football, resting on the floor of the stadium center. Before that, one could see artists, dressed as trees and children representing flowers, bouncing on trampolines circling the ball. And then Brazil’s samba music began playing and traditional Brazilian dancers began lining up to celebrate Brazil’s ethnicity and wide-spread geographical range. A few minutes later, the dancers were replaced by acrobats dressed as footballs along with 64 children, who smartly juggled the balls on strings. When, the giant ball slowly opened, spectators were agog as Brazilian star Claudia Leitte was seen and she was immediately followed by J-Lo and Pitbull. Together, they sang the official World Cup song and the entire stadium joined them. While Ole Ola was still reverberating in the stadium, artistes disappeared back down the trapdoor to make way for world cup’s first match between hosts Brazil and Croatia. In addition to more than 60000 people watching the show from their seats in the stadium, the opening ceremony was broadcast live to a billion television viewers worldwide.
When the opening show was over, teams from hosts Brazil and Croatia took the field to a great ovation of the spectators. Croatia made the initial moves with 35-year old Ivica Olic almost scored in the seventh minute from a header. Brazil bidding for their 6th world cup victory had a disastrous start with a self-goal by Marcelo in the 11th minute. From the left flank, Ivica Olic sent a cross, which after touching the legs of Nikica Jelavic came in the path of Marcelo. From 5 yards in front of the Brazilian goal, Marcelo shot in his own goal to the utter horror of goalkeeper Julio Cesar. A hush descended in the stadium for some time but the fans soon returned to shouting and cheering. But the color drained off from the faces of Brazilian players and Marcelo had nowhere to hide. Brazil wanted to wipe out the shame at the earliest but all their moves were blocked by another 35-year old Croatian defender Stipe Pletikosa. In an attempt to take charge of the match, Neymar moved from the left flank to the middle. This changed the game’s pattern as Croatians got a bit unsettled. The equalizer came, when Neymar received a pass from Oscar and ran solo towards the Croatian goal. From about 25 yards, he struck a low left-footer to the right post and the ball found its way inside after the impact.
Next, a penalty came Brazil’s way, when the Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura was convinced that Fred was fouled deliberately. Neymar scored his second goal from the spot even as the Croatian goalkeeper got his hand to the shot but he could only deflect the ball into the goal. Brazil’s third goal came in injury time from Oscar, whose brilliant left-footed shot was bang on target.
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