Rajlovac Blues

Lt. Col. Sam Burns
First published in
SFOR Informer#142, July 4, 2002

To the casual observer Sunday June 30th seemed like any other day, but in Rajlovac Base this particular Sunday was different. As the hour of 1 p.m. fast approached, offices, work areas and paths emptied of German soldiers except for those unlucky enough to be chosen for essential tasks or duties. Against the odds Germany had made it to the Soccer World Cup final, but could they beat the mighty Brazilians?

Rajlovac - Men of the German 5th SFOR Contingent Signals Company packed around their television. Hopes were high, Stabsunteroffizier Gamenz remarked to a colleague: "It will be a good game, I hope we win."
High Hopes
The first half was full of highs and lows; Germany attacked well through Schneider and Klose, Brazil punched back with lightning counter attacks from Ronaldinho and Ronaldo only to be thwarted by the German goalkeeper Kahn. The atmosphere in the Jamaika bar was tense; groans and applause matched the sequence of play. The first half ended with both teams even, tension eased as highlights and missed chances were discussed.
The second half was barely underway when Neuville's powerful free kick forced a good save from the Brazilian keeper, for a brief moment everyone was on their feet, applause rippled in recognition of a good effort.
Ronaldo shot and it was all over
Disaster struck when a weak shot by Ronaldo was spilled by Kahn, Ronaldo made no mistake with the follow-up, a chorus of expletives and moans echoed around the room, 1-0 to Brazil. All present urged their team on but to no avail; Rivaldo dummied brilliantly, Ronaldo shot perfectly into the lower-right corner of the net. The second goal brought wails of disappointment from the soldiers, it was all over.
Capt. Thomas Nemitz, commanding officer for the Signal Company was philosophical about the result. "It was an interesting game, the team played better than I thought they would, in the first half I hoped we could have won. In the second half they (Brazil) showed their skill, they were much better, they deserved to win. Germany was lucky to get to the final; they did not have to play any of the big teams like Italy or France. Still I am happy the team did as well as they did," he said.

Related link:
Nations of SFOR: Germany

Click on thumbnail to enlarge
Photos: Lt. Col. Sam Burns

Unteroffizier Hoffner (left) and Hauptgefreiter Maubhammer (centre) watch the game slipping away from Germany.

Click on thumbnail to enlarge

Stabsunteroffizier Gamenz (left) and Hauptgefreiter Schubert concentrate fully on the play.