Yet another spectacular and wonderful bus ride today from Tivat via BUDVA on the Adriatic Riviera and then up, up and up some more into the mountains on a new winding highway and a trip to PODGORICA, the capital of this new, small, mountainous country, recently independent from Serbia and before than Yugoslavia.
It used to be called TITOGRAD after Josip Broz Tito, who led Yugoslavia and its 7 nations for 27 years until his death in 1980 . Two hours with fantastic ocean and mountain views. My hotel is just off the main square and about 500 yards from the city centre stadium..PODGORICA CITY STADIUM with neat walking streets with bars, shady restaurants and pleasant squares. I visited a Honey Market and one side of the square with maybe 20 stalls selling the nectar in all forms including drinks, soaps and ointments. A huge fountain in the nmiddle of the square and on the other side a market just for wooden boxes. In one corner a childrens party with a clown and a sing song, and on the next corner a new bride in white with a bouquet posed for me for snapshots.
I went to The House of Football, a large modern building in red and yellow to match the flag and team jerseys. There was a training comples with six fields with stands. A 2 Euro taxi to my hotel with my VIP ticket in hand. Montenegro gained independence in 2006 and the country had its own national team a year later.They started out as FIFAs 208th member beat Norway 3-1 a year later and even tied England 2-2 after Wayne Rooney was sent off.
Did you see the crowd trouble at the stadium in 205 when they hosted Russia and the match was abandoned after 67 minutes and the visitors were awarded a 3-0 victory? . The stadium only holds about 15,000 fans and the pitch is only about 4 metres from the stands. The locals are very passionate and the North Stand chants and is immediately answered by the fans in the South Stand. Various towns bring fans and put up signs..there was a big sign for KOTOR opposite me from the main stand. ULTRA CRNA GORA are the biggest group.
My hotel houses the Kazakhstan media and I was interviewed by 'Genya' from Almaty, the former capital. Now its Astana where the national team plays their home matches.
It turned out to be a FIVE GOAL ROUT. Only 1-0 at half time but 4 more goals after the interval gave head coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic three valuable points in Group E. The crowd was well behaved and went off into the surrounding streets to celebrate. Other teams in the group include Denmark, Poland, Romania and Armenia besides Kazakhstan. Next match is away at Parken in Copenhagen on October 11th..