Archive for August, 2013

PostHeaderIcon Le village du Ray

Nice, France.
31 August 2013.

Got up early in the morning to attend an appointment in the city centre. Definitely not the best way to start the weekend. On a side note, I know that friendliness is generally deemed as compulsory for any professional advisor, but mine really knows how to treat a client in the best possible way. Très très sympa on dirait.

As planned, I then proceeded to Place Masséna to take a look at the activities being held there, celebrating Stade du Ray, and to visit the new official store of OGC Nice which was opening its doors to the public for the very first time.


Then back to my lovely room. Recorded Einaudi’s I Giorni today out of boredom. Moving out to Sophia this Monday. New semester starts the day after.

PostHeaderIcon C’est fini!

Nice, France.
29 August 2013.

Today was a big day. For us, a group of 24 Malaysian students enrolling at IUTs in Nice and Sophia Antipolis, it was our last day at Alliance Française after four fantastic months meeting various kinds of people and making new friends, be it temporary or not, and of course, attending intensive French classes 20 hours a week. A small fête had been planned, just a simple occasion to say a few goodbyes and “pour se dire au revoir”. It would, quite inevitably, be a sentimental day.

For me, though, there was something else also of great importance. It was the return leg of UEFA Europa League Play-off, with local team OGC Nice hosting their Cyprian opponents Apollon Limassol at Stade du Ray and needing to overturn a two-goal deficit. This was their first involvement in any European competition in 37 years, and for this reason a mighty disillusionment was awaiting every Niçois if they failed to qualify for the group stage. This tie was even more special  as we approached La Der’ du Ray, literally the last of Ray, to celebrate the last match ever to be played at the stadium this weekend as the curtain was being drawn on the people’s favourite home ground. After this, all home games will be played at the modern, newly-built and environmentally-friendly Allianz Riviera.

Alliance Française

Four months at this small but quality French school will be something that I’ll never forget. A very treasured memory.

Along the way I met people of different nationalities whom I’m glad to have met. While the overseas trips that I had done with my family were a great eye-opener, it was nothing compared to living in a foreign country and making new friends of diverse origins. First of all there was this interesting French professor, Sten Roi, who taught us for two months. Unimaginably hilarious, he was also a great teacher and a really cool guy. And he showed no interest whatsoever in football, yet as a true Niçois he did acknowledge and maybe even appreciate my support for OGC Nice.

First group photo with Sten (in black) taken in June.

For the other couple of months, we, the Malaysian students, were regrouped together (into two groups) and enrolled in a preparation class in the afternoon for TCF, an obligatory examination required to enter into local universities. This time we got a twenty-something ( 😆 ) Florence as our professor, and it didn’t take us long to like her. If you’re nice, friendly, and sometimes funny, how could people hate you right? I still remember how genuinely surprised (in a pleasing way) I was when simply by noticing my fingers she managed to figure out that I played guitar, the first ever person to have done that since I started playing it two years ago. Too bad she is not even remotely interested in OGC Nice (and football in general) despite the fact that she too, like Sten, is a Niçoise. 😆  Not forgetting the wonderful workforce of AF, including the always cheerful and merry Garance. I extend to you guys a huge thanks. From the bottom of my heart. Really.

So to mark this special day (29 August), I had decided to recite a few simple guitar pieces to the whole class, essentially thanks to the personal request made by Florence, although jokingly, on our first day with her. Due to time constraint, however, I could only play three pieces: Francis Cabrel’s Je l’aime a mourir, Ludovico Einaudi‘s I Giorni and the Beatles’ Yesterday, all fingerstyle. I’d say it was a disaster as errors were aplenty, but the others thought otherwise. I don’t know. Comme vous voulez. Before parting, obviously, we took the imperative group photos as souvenirs.

OGC Nice

First and foremost: see THIS, s’il vous plait.

Before bidding the final goodbye to AF, I chatted with one of the staff members, Jean-Philippe, who was really impressed by my enthusiasm for les Rouge et Noir. It felt weird, he told me, seeing a Malaysian who was very passionate about such a relatively obscure, local football club. None of the foreigners he had ever met at AF were like me. He was visibly proud, being a true Niçois (also French! :lol:) and all.

Next stop: Stade du Ray.

The night in Cyprus a week ago was catastrophic, and in two hours it might be the only thing that would matter. The damage had been done. Without any doubt now was the perfect time to fix it.

As I found my seat, my attention was drawn to a small group of fans unveiling a new banner that read: Vous nous avez fait rêver. Maintenant on veut voyager. “You made us dream. Now we want to travel.”. I could almost hear them saying “We can still do this.” through that banner. Optimism was key. While the stadium was being filled by the supporters, the visiting fans in blue were enjoying themselves. Loud and estatic, the Cypriots had every right to be. They were initially the underdogs. That day, however, the odds were more balanced.

At 20h00, the game kicked off. Four minutes later, Super Dario found the net, sending the home crowd into ruptures. It was a moment of sheer delirium. For once we really thought we were going to make it, and overturning a two-goal deficit seemed simple enough. Les Aiglons pushed and pushed for the all-important second goal to equalise the score in aggregate and at least force the contest into extra-time. Apollon did well in time-wasting, but we dominated the match and were by far the better side.

But everything was eventually in vain, as it proved to be the only goal of the game. As the game dragged into additional time, the spirit and fervor manifested by the supporters started to dissipate. It was time to face the bitter reality. We were just not good enough. The damage, as I said, had been done a week earlier for it was in Nicosia where everything went wrong. This short European journey left nothing more than une valise pleine de regrets. Full of regrets and broken dreams. For most of the Niçois, they waited 37 years for essentially nothing. For me, it was my first and only European night, and it was frustrating.

On my way back, near Place Masséna situated more than 3km away from the stadium, a bus braked and stopped while turning in front of me. Inside it was seated an old man by the window. He saw me wearing the team’s home kit, and he shook his head, giving me an utterly grief-stricken look that I found extremely depressing. That did hit me hard. Imagine how long he had waited for such an opportunity to play in a prestigious European competition to come by, and how ultimately cruel the end was.

We have to move on. Montpellier are visiting us this Sunday. Make it a memorable day for le Ray.

UEFA Europa League Play-off 2nd Leg.
OGC Nice 1-0 Apollon Limassol (Aggregate: 1-2), Nice eliminated from the competition.

More pics HERE.

PostHeaderIcon Pic: Paris #1

Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
9 August 2013.

Discovering Vincent van Gogh. No cameras allowed inside however.

PostHeaderIcon Ligue 1: 3ème journée

Stade François Coty, Ajaccio.
25 August 2013.

The team went to the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte knowing that they had to up their game after the terrible midweek defeat to Apollon Limassol in the Europa League play-off in Cyprus. The opponents AC Ajaccio had been outstanding the previous week, holding defending champions PSG to a 1-1 draw largely thanks to the heroics of their goalkeeper Ochoa. With Nice supporters barred from attending the match due to “safety reasons”, les Aiglons were left to fight on their own for the three precious points.

Six minutes into the game, new signing Christian Brüls headed the ball into the back of the net but the goal was swiftly cancelled as the linesman flagged for an offside offence apparently by striker Cvitanich. Debatable, perhaps. The offside rule has always been annoyingly complicated. Overall, Nice dominated the game yet they were unable find the elusive winning goal. The match thus ended goalless. Decent performance, could have been better, but an invaluable point won nonetheless. What’s important now is to overturn the deficit in the return leg against Limassol at Stade du Ray.

Matchday 3: AC Ajaccio 0-0 OGC Nice, 11th.

PostHeaderIcon Pic: Entrevaux

View from the citadel in Entrevaux, France.
24 August 2013.

Beautiful sight.

PostHeaderIcon Pic: Paris #0

Gare de Lyon, Paris.
8 August 2013.

I’m finally here.

PostHeaderIcon Ligue 1: 2ème journée

Stade du Ray, Nice.
17 August 2013.

Following some unpleasant incidents during last season’s closing home fixture against Lyon, OGC Nice had been ordered to play their first home game of the new season against Stade Rennais behind closed doors. Reeling from the disastrous visit to Lyon, les Aiglons had to make do and bounce back from last week’s defeat, regardless of the absence of the supporters.

The atmosphere was expectedly lifeless in the stadium. It was even below par with that of a friendly match, yet the players did brilliantly and secured a 2-1 victory with fans’ favourite Dario Cvitanich finding the net on his return from suspension. Although the winning goal, scored by Jérémy Pied, was the result of a costly defensive error from Rennes, the team’s performance in itself is worthy enough of maximum points that day. Convincing and commanding, there was no better way to prepare for the UEFA Europa League play-off against Apollon Limassol in Cyprus this coming Thursday.

A solid win, and three points in the bag.

Matchday 2: OGC Nice 2-1 Stade Rennais, 12th.

PostHeaderIcon Ligue 1: 1ère journée

Stade de Gerland, Lyon.
10 August 2013.

After a surprisingly unimpressive pre-season performance with a draw and four losses (scoring a goal and conceding ten) recorded, there were doubts of OGC Nice‘s success in the new season, whether they would be good enough to emulate last season’s achievement or to even surpass it. Being faithful supporters of the club ( 😆 ), we were adamant not to let ourselves get carried away by such useless negative thoughts. We kept repeating the old mantra “it’s just a friendly” after each loss, hoping that the poor form would not continue into the season.

Les Aiglons travelled to Stade de Gerland for the opening game of the new footballing year to face last season’s second runners-up Olympique Lyonnais who finished three points above them.

The result? A trashing 4-0 defeat. The first half however wasn’t that bad – after Lyon’s Lacazette opened the score Nice seemed to have woken up and began to play decent football, creating chances and pushing Lyon’s defence deeper and deeper. But then came the half-time whistle, and after the restart everything went wrong. “After half-time we had been inexistant,” admitted team captain Didier Digard.

So that’s it. At rock bottom. Not the best start to the season.

Matchday 1: Olympique Lyonnais 4-0 OGC Nice, 20th.

Ligue 1 – Résumé de la 1ère journée – 2013/2014 by Ligue1-Officiel

PostHeaderIcon Nissa la Bella

Nice, France.
3 August 2013.

The morning I decided to make a very simple guitar arrangement for the unofficial anthem of the city of Nice.

QUICK EDIT: The video.

PostHeaderIcon Friendly in Monaco

Stade Louis II, Monaco.
18h30, 3 August 2013.

A typical weekend started as usual: I slept very late the night before and only woke up just after noon on Saturday when the summer heat was too much for my comfort.

I was playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf on my 3DS when I remembered that the football team Tottenham Hotspur had earlier arrived in Monaco and they were going to face AS Monaco later that evening in a friendly match at Stade Louis II. Considering the fact that Monaco is merely 20km away from Nice, I decided to get up and get ready for a short trip to the small principality, but not before convincing a friend to tag along. Everything was impromptu.

We bought the away tickets at the stadium which put us together with the few Britons present that day.

We were however twenty minutes late, and by the time we reached the stadium it was already 1-0 to Monaco.

The majority of the big names were on the field: Lloris, Parker, Lennon, Dembele, Sigurdsson and Walker for Spurs; Carvalho, Abidal, Toulalan, Moutinho, Rodriguez, and the  €60 million marquee signing Falcao for Les rouges et blancs.

There were no more goals until two minutes into the second half when a glancing header from Ocampos made it into the back of the net, leaving Spurs’ Niçois goalkeeper Hugo Lloris helpless. Little did he know he was eventually going to have a bad time in the goal. A couple of minutes later, Falcao scored.

Spurs were in disarray, but despite that they did manage to pull one back through Harry Kane to make it 3-1. Their inferiority in the game nevertheless proved to be significant enough as AS Monaco went on to win 5-2.

While the new rich kids demonstrated to the world what they are capable of doing, Spurs were visibly in shambles, especially their fragile defence.

So… that’s it. Ain’t football fun?

Kona jangan jeles!