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Semifinal Loss Silences Turkish Fans

June 26, 2002

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ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) _ The streets of Istanbul and the capital Ankara were swarming with red and white Wednesday, but they fell largely silent as Turkey lost to Brazil 1-0 in the World Cup semifinals.

Braving heavy rain in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square, crowds listened to match commentary broadcast from giant speakers. State employees had been given the afternoon off, and no one else seemed to be working either.

There was no repeat of the scenes of jubilation that had marked Turkey’s progress through the tournament. A few fans waved giant Turkish flags, but the majority stood in thoughtful silence.

``They played really well, they fought really hard, but it wasn’t to be,″ said Gulsum Yilmaz, 22, a student. ``I’m very sad, but it’s made us all really happy to get this far. Now Turkish soccer is in a better place.″

It is the best sports performance for Turkey, which travels to co-host South Korea for Saturday’s third-place game in Daegu.

``Turkey played above its strength, but Brazil is a great team. If you want to be realistic, Brazil is a world giant, and the result is about right,″ said Erdal Savas, 32. ``To get here was a great achievement and from now on everyone will be scared to play against Turkey.″

In Ankara, almost the only people visible on the streets during the game were selling Turkish flags. After the game, the thousands of people who gathered in Kizilay Square in anticipation of a party began to disperse.

``We’ve been unsuccessful with our economy, and our victories in the World Cup made us happy for a little while,″ said Umit Ozbey, 24, an engineer. ``It made us forget the crisis. I’m upset we didn’t win ... but now we have to get back to the real world.″

Turkey’s coach Senol Gunes said after the game that he was proud of his team but ``sorry we couldn’t give the Turkish people one more reason for optimism.″

Some fans, though, were determined to stay on and have fun regardless.

``We’re here because we’re happy that Turkey got us this far,″ said Tulay Manbacioglu, 28.

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