Sam Kelly has waited his entire life for this moment. Australia is playing in the World Cup for the first time since 1974, and the 30-year-old Melbourne native is gearing up for an exciting month.
"With the history of the Australians in sport, the boys, they're not going to let us down," said Kelly, who was sipping a beer by his computer Tuesday night on his rooftop apartment near Elephant Mountain, Taipei. "I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be great."
His girlfriend Janice, however, does not share his enthusiasm. "I'm not really familiar with sports because I'm a city girl," she said. "If I don't understand something I find it boring."
Undaunted, Kelly has spent a lot of time over the past two weeks getting ready for one of the world's greatest sporting events, which opens at noon today local time when Germany plays Costa Rica in Munich. He's researched the teams online and has watched 10 videos on the history of the game.
"Anyone can win the World Cup," he said, "which is proven by Greece winning Euro 2005. The team who nobody even thought had any chance at all won."
While Kerry is hatching plans to establish an office pool, Web designer Alejandro Alarcon is wondering when he should break out his Spain jacket.
"Some of the games at the beginning of the World Cup are not very interesting," he said. "But if Spain goes far enough I will wear my winter Spanish jacket."
His friend Claire Lai, however, favors the hosts. She's planning on catching the tournament opener at the Brass Monkey, one of several Taipei sports bars that have pledged to show every game. "Because I support Germany, I want to go. That's all," she said.
She's not sure where she'll watch the other games, and choosing a venue won't be easy.
Several sports bars are offering plenty of incentives, and four -- Brass Monkey (02 2547-5050), the Shannon (02 2772-0948), the Tavern (02-8780-0892) and Saints and Sinners (02 2739-9001) -- promise to show every game live.
The Shannon has planned a variety of drink specials, including six Heinekens for NT$500, two-for-one Coronas and jugs of Jim Beam for NT$700, as well as a chance to win a bicycle.
Brass Monkey customers who purchase a bucket of five Heinekens during matches enter a raffle for one of 10 national team jerseys. Buy three buckets and get a free Brass Monkey T-shirt. "We have very big expectations," said co-owner Max Murphy. "We've already had a million phone calls about tonight."
JB's (02 2364-8222) will show all of the earlier matches and will offer drink specials based on which teams are playing. Its kitchen will offer a limited dinner menu after 11pm. "To some extent the schedule will be flexible, depending on who shows up," said co-owner Ian Scott. "We expect everybody to have a good time and enjoy the Cup."
Kerry isn't sure where he'll go to watch Australia. He noted that JB's has a South African chef, while the Tavern is close to his apartment.
"The Monkey might be able to cram more people in, so it might have a better environment," he added.
He will have made up his mind by 9pm on Monday, when the Socceroos play Japan.
"Australia has good form going into the World Cup, and I think people will be behind them," he said. "They could be one of the surprises."