Wine and weather exercise minds at freezing Copa

Miguel Rojo
Brazilian fans wait for the 2011 Copa America Group B first round football match against Venezuela held at the Ciudad de La Plata stadium in La Plata, 59 Km south of Buenos Aires. Wine and the freezing weather were exercising minds Sunday at the Copa America with Chilean fans revelling in the wintry conditions while Brazil and Venezuela prepared to do battle longing for the warmer climes of home

Wine and the freezing weather were exercising minds Sunday at the Copa America with Chilean fans revelling in the wintry conditions while Brazil and Venezuela prepared to do battle longing for the warmer climes of home.

Argentina's meteorological office had been warning that sub-zero temperatures were on the way and sure enough the thermometer had dipped to minus two in parts of the area around Buenos Aires, including La Plata, where the auriverde were to take on Caribbean hopefuls the Venezuelans.

Snowfalls were at least absent from the capital - that fate reserved for parts of the Atlantic seaboard including tourist centre Mar del Plata - while residents in the western province of Mendoza shivered as the mercury slid to a low of minus 14 Celsius.

The polar snap is set to last until midweek, forecasters said. They added that winds gusting at up to 140 kilometres per hour would afflict some predominantly northern provinces.

But while some fans shivered as they made their way to the Estadio Unico to see Brazil open their campaign, other hardier souls were enjoying the cold.

"Never mind the cold - Chile is worth more," Chile fan Luis Gonzalez told AFP as he prepared to set off for Argentina to support La Roja.

Dozens of cars and lorries bearing fans were headed for the border and temperatures of around minus ten were shrugged off as the travellers looked forward to Monday's match against Mexico at San Juan.

"We are used to the cold and we have come prepared - thick clothes and plenty of wine," grinned Gonzalez.

"Forget the cold - we're off to support Chile, because we're playing better than ever," shouted fellow fan Cristobal Pinto as he set out for his first away international.

Officials say some 25,000 Chilean fans will make the trip to back their team.