After four pleasant days in the mid 60˚s F, winter arrived in Joburg today. Temperatures dropped like a rock overnight, plunging into the high 30˚s F around noontime, with the wind whipping at 20 mph and gusting to 35 mph. It was 37 ˚ two hours before the Brazil-North Korea match. So much for that mild South African winter we were promised. It’s NFL cold in a game where players run around in shorts.
It raises the question: Does the cold help winter countries such as Denmark and Germany and hurt the tropical ones such as Brazil and Paraguay? When the U.S. faces Mexico in qualifying matches, the Americans love to play the games in the cold— say Columbus, Ohio, in February. And the Yanks have come up winners in these contests.
North Korea’s players won’t be shocked by the cold, but it’s unlikely to provide an advantage. That’s because Brazil’s players have been laboring in Europe for years, so they’re used to it. Running in the game will keep them warm. Being a sub is more difficult. It’s hard to get warm quickly, so it’s likely that coaches will keep all their subs moving long before they’re ready to use them.
The fans are the ones who suffer will suffer. Brazil’s supporters are going to be in for a long cold night—even they can’t samba themselves warm in these temperatures.