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So Near Yet So Far

by Ashley Morrison on Jul 03, 2011

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The Matildas moved to the German town of Bochum on Thursday to prepare for their upcoming must-win game against Equatorial Guinea.

Bochum was the centre for weapons manufacturing during the second world war war and was therefore a major target. Women and young children were evacuated leaving the city almost a ghost town. In November, 1944, 700 British bombers attacked the city and more that 10,000 high explosive and 130,000 incendiary bombs were dropped. Sixty years later bombs are still being uncovered in the area.

The town has returned to its industrial past, however, but in 2008 when Nokia closed its plant thousands of jobs were lost.

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Hosting games at the 2011 Women’s World Cup has given the locals a real boost and they are proud to showcase their town.

The stadium is a wonderful compact venue with seating all around and very close to the action, and has a capacity of just under 20,000; the sort of stadium football is crying out for in Australia.

Not only are the fans close to the action but so too are the players. Both teams are staying at the Renaissance hotel next to the ground, a mere 200 metres from the stadium, as were Germany and Nigeria who played on Thursday evening.

Unbelievably all of the teams must travel to the stadium by bus, something that several of the teams have questioned. FIFA have advised that this is one of the protocols; all teams must travel to the games by bus, primarily for safety reasons. The second reason given was that the teams have to be filmed climbing off the bus!

So at lunchtime today, local time, Tom Sermanni’s team will board the bus outside the hotel, drive away from the ground just 200 metres away, and go around the roundabout and head back to the ground. A two-minute journey will be increased to a five minute one! Hardly time for the girls to get through one tune on their iPods, or even think deeply about the upcoming match.

The good news is the girls have already sampled the atmosphere that will await them, having attended the Germany v Nigeria game at the stadium. They followed this up by watching France demolish Canada in the bar area of the hotel with players from Germany and Nigeria, with strictly no alcohol being consumed!

Equatorials Guinea’s large support crew were also there, but it was rumoured the players had to stay in their rooms.

The mood in the camp is still very positive despite their loss to Brazil and have no players under a serious injury cloud, so it is hoped that they prepare thoroughly before they depart for the stadium, as the journey will hardly give them time to collect their thoughts. The journey home will hopefully be one of celebration as a win is crucial for the team’s chances of progressing through the group stage. They may just have enough time for the team song!