Throughout the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Iran national team defender Steven Beitashour will share some of his experiences in Brazil with whitecapsfc.com as part of “Beita’s Brazil Blog.” In the first installment, Beitashour detailed his first few weeks in Brazil. Today, he recounts his first gameday experience and looks forward to Iran's next match.
There’s nothing like gameday.
Ever since I was young, I always woke up in the morning super excited on gamedays so you can imagine how I felt on Monday when we played our first game against Nigeria.
It was quite the experience. We left the hotel around 2 p.m. and there were hundreds of Iranian fans outside our hotel chanting, screaming, and blowing on the vuvuzelas. They were waiting there for hours just to wish us good luck. It was crazy. They were probably just as pumped up as we were.
A few of the fans were actually from Vancouver so I definitely said hi to them. There were also some from San Jose’s Los Gatos area. They were really excited to be there to show their support and I was very appreciative that they flew all this way, not just for me but for the team.
Seeing all those fans at the hotel was really exciting and that was only the beginning. Getting to the stadium and then walking out onto the field was an experience I’ll never forget.
It was a packed stadium – the announced attendance was just under 40,000 – but it sounded like way more than that. If the crowd started cheering for an exciting play or if they got upset, it was crazy how loud they got and just how passionate they were.
There were a lot of Brazil jerseys in the crowd so I think it was mostly Brazilian fans, but I saw a lot of Iranians as well. I’d say we definitely had more Iranian fans than Nigerian fans, which was great to see.
I think I noticed the fans more on Monday because I was on the bench. When I’m playing, I’m zoned out. It was obviously tough being on the bench. It’s a different role, because I’m used to starting every game, but I just tried to stay prepared physically and mentally. Any moment someone could go down or the coach could just call my number, so I constantly had to be ready to go.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get in but the coach had a game plan and I thought it worked because we really frustrated Nigeria. And we just about had the win with Ghoochi’s header. Now we’re just focused on the next game.
It’s funny, people have been asking me about this game against Argentina for months. And my answer has always been: “I’m just focused on the next game and I’m not worried about that.” But I guess I can’t say that anymore!
It’s going to be fun. I know everyone is excited to get it going. In order to be successful, we really have to play as a team. We have great team spirit and we’re definitely going to take that into Saturday’s game.
We’ve all been talking about the upsets and drama we’ve seen in other groups. I think it’s been good for us. It makes us believe even more, “Why not us?” We’re the underdog. If these other teams can do it, then why can’t we?
That’s all for now. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comment section and I’ll try my best to answer them in my next blog entry.
Thanks for reading!
Beitashour and the Iranian national team are set to take on Argentina in their second match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup on Saturday at 9 a.m. PT.