By Jose Miguel Gomez
An entire stadium with over 40,000 fans dressed in yellow awaited the key match between Colombia and Chile. Only a couple of thousand wore Chilean red. We photographers arrived early to set up on the field in the 40C (104F) heat and 80% humidity. Every slight movement in the sun caused a burst of sweat.
Colombia only needed a draw to qualify for Brazil 2014. It was 16 years since we last qualified for the World Cup, and the fans inside the stadium and out were in a state of triumphal optimism. This was a whole new generation of players, and those who played for European clubs carried the biggest burden of setting the stage for a nationwide fiesta.
Chile, on the other hand, did play in the last World Cup. Commentators claimed that Chile is a dangerous team, but no one imagined what would happen later.
Barranquilla is famous for its Carnival. Costumed characters parade along 40th Street in the Caribbean heat, the same heat the players prepared to play in. In the stadium was one of those characters – a tiger – who, once he noticed photographers aiming at him, didn’t stop opening his massive jaws. There was also the omnipresent Cole, dressed as the emblematic Andean condor.
And there were beautiful women with their tight yellow jerseys. One supporter of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez wore a mask in support of her own country’s team, which was playing back home.