It was setting up to be a nice lunch break at Shanghai Kelly’s on Wednesday afternoon.
The bar was airy and clean, the drinks, er, Cokes were free, and the Sweden-Paraguay World Cup game was on the TV, which meant that, theoretically, there would be Swedish fans at this Nob Hill pub.
“It was a sea of yellow on Saturday [for Sweden’s first game],” said Fog, the bartender, referring to the Swedish jersey. “And Sweden definitely has the best-looking fans.”
But the problem was quantity, not quality, when the first whistle blew Wednesday, as there were just four fans in the bar.
“A bunch of people told me they’d be here for this game,” Minnesota native Kelly Bjorklund said. “I don’t know what’s going on.”
After waiting for a crowd and a goal, throughout a scoreless first half, the party shifted up the road to Shanghai’s sister bar, The North Star, in North Beach.
It was hard to vouch for the attractiveness of many of the Swedish partisan patrons at the North Star, as their faces were distorted with frustration for much of the game as Sweden squandered scoring chance after scoring chance. Finally, in the 88th minute, Freddie Ljunberg knocked in a header to give Sweden a 1-0 win, provoking a bar stool to be flipped over and putting the team in great position to advance to the next round.
Sitting outside relaxing after the tense victory was Barish, a native of Gothenborg, Sweden, who now lives in Russian Hill.
“There’s a law in Sweden, kind of a law of humbleness,” he said, when asked to discuss his team’s chances. “But if we overcome that and get some confidence and cockiness, we’re a dangerous team.”