Mixed feelings for Turkish fans

Turkish fans watched their World Cup final dream die on Wednesday, as their team lost 1-0 to Brazil in the semifinal.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:27 IST
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Turkish fans watched their World Cup final dream die on Wednesday, as their team lost 1-0 to Brazil in the semifinal, but the sadness was mixed with satisfaction at the country's best ever sporting performance. The streets of Istanbul and the capital Ankara were swarming with red and white - the national team's colors - before Wednesday's match, but during the game they fell largely silent. Braving heavy rain in Istanbul's central Taksim Square, crowds of Turks listened to match commentary broadcast from giant speakers. State employees had been given the afternoon off to watch the match. No one else seemed to be working either. There was no repeat, though, of the scenes of mass jubilation that had marked Turkey's progress through the tournament - allowing Turks hard pressed by an economic crisis that brought massive layoffs a rare chance to celebrate. Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit congratulated the Turkish side in a statement, saying he had watched the match "with great excitement and pleasure". Our footballers shouldn't be sorry that they lost today's match," Ecevit said. "With their success, they have given our country a feeling of togetherness and joy, and increased our national self-confidence". Thousands of fans were determined to celebrate, waving flags and dancing as speakers blared out music. Others stood in silence or began to drift away. "They played really well, they fought really hard, but it wasn't to be," said Gulsum Yilmaz, 22, a student. In Ankara, almost the only people visible on the streets during the match were selling Turkish flags. After the game some of the thousands of people who gathered in Kizilay square in anticipation of a party began to disperse, but others were determined to stay on and party regardless. At least 20,000 people filled the square after the match. Some fans stood atop double-decker buses to sing and wave the Turkish flag. Others danced in the streets, which were closed to traffic. "We're here because we're happy that Turkey got us this far," said Tulay Manbacioglu, 28. 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". (AP)