Nicaragua is currently ranked 139th in the FIFA/Coca Cola (when did FIFA sell out to the corporate world, oh wait, never mind) world cup rankings, just after Aruba, but ahead of Tanzania. That may not seem all that impressive, but one must take into account the situation. Recently, the Nicaraguan national team has been on somewhat of a roll. Winning 5 games in-a-row before suffering their first and what proved to be last game in their bid for a spot at the Russian World Cup in 2018 (just think maybe Putin would have made the Nicaraguans win as a way to avenge the U.S. involvement in the Contra Wars of the 80’s.)
At the beginning of the year the Nicaraguan team found themselves in a pretty dreadful place having amassed an international ranking of 180th after going 0-7-1 in 2013 and 14. However, this little nation, adopting a popular slogan, once utilized by a now not so overly popular president, believed, and raced into the 2015 season with a win while chanting, "YES WE CAN OR SI, SE PUEDE."
With all the hype Cassie and I (Kevin) were thrilled to find ourselves at the game with friends to watch last month match versus Jamaica (currently ranked 52nd in the Corporate World Rankings.) The Nicaraguans had just traveled to Jamaica, and surprisingly pulled off a 3-2 victory, shocking the tiny Caribbean nation. With a win, a draw or even a narrow loss by a point the team would would advance in their quest for Russia 2018.
The game was fierce and fun. We found ourselves sitting just off center, three rows up (for once we were all very thankful of the fact that Nicaraguans normally enjoy being fashionably late to all things, including our Nicaraguan friends whom we were with, one of whom is more timely than your average North American). We chanted “SI, SE PUEDE” with the crowd, waived our Nicaraguan flag, sang Nicaraguan songs, yelled, laughed, jeered and cheered for our white and blue.
Unfortunately, the once triumphant Nicaraguans were turned back. Only minutes into the match the Jamaicans would score first in dramatic corner kick fashion. However, the pride of the humble Central American nation could still move on in world cup qualifications, if they could just prevent the islanders from scoring again during the match. But, with only minutes remaining, after our* home team had fought and controlled the majority of the game, but found themselves unable to find the back of the net, the Jamaicans scored again and many dreams were shattered.
We want to share a little bit of our experience through pictures and hope that in some way you can experience the magic that we found in this night.