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Wednesday, 26 June, 2002, 21:57 GMT 22:57 UK

Brazil's songs of praise

By Phil McNulty
BBC Sport Online's man in Japan

Brazil celebrated with a song in their hearts as they gathered in the spectacular Saitama Stadium with victory secured and a fifth World Cup win within touching distance.

They embraced openly, high-fived noisily until their palms ached, called loved ones to share the joy of victory against Turkey and filled a whole room with the true romance of the beautiful game.

Yes, the Brazilian media were happy.

" Yes, I can smile naturally after that "
Luiz Felipe Scolari
Brazil coach

Ronaldo and his cohorts were nowhere to be seen as this truly remarkable bonding of brothers took place after the 1-0 win in the World Cup semi-final.

The songs came from the same men who had spat venom at coach Luiz Felipe Scolari as Brazil struggled to qualify for the competition they call their own.

Now Scolari was serenaded and cheered to his seat as Brazil saw off the challenge of brave Turkey to set up the old traditionalists' final against Germany in Yokohama on Sunday.

And this is the barometer of how Brazil have turned their fortunes around to reach the World Cup final.

Scolari was as measured as his team were mesmeric, looking the picture of grim-faced seriousness as he said: "Yes, I can smile naturally after that."

The fact that he was not actually smiling was a mere detail.

Scolari's team have put a smile on the face of the World Cup, so there was no need for the coach to bother.

Brazil may still possess a circus act in Denilson, back-heeling the ball to Turkey as injury-time ticked away.

And they may have Rivaldo, who possesses brilliant skills but is arguably the most selfish player in the world when it comes to sharing his gifts with team-mates.

But it did not matter as that bear-pit of animosity, more commonly known as the media Mixed Zone - where players are obliged to meet the press - was transformed into the stage for a selection of Brazilian anthems to soccer success.

It was as if destiny was in their grasp, Germany merely a minor obstacle waiting to be overcome.

" We are one of the last four in the World Cup and we wanted to win - maybe next time "
Senol Gunes
Turkey coach

For Turkey, and dignified coach Senol Gunes, there was only the pain of defeat.

But in dignified defeat there was defiance as Gunes said: "We came to the World Cup to take part in a festival, but once we reached the semi-final we wanted the final itself.

"We are sorry at not giving the Turkish people another great source of happiness, but we are also proud.

"We are one of the last four in the World Cup and we wanted to win - maybe next time."

Turkey can indeed be proud of their team, who have established their right to be taken seriously at the top end of the world game.

They were tenacious and matched Brazil in many departments, but like England before them, they lacked the individual brilliance of a Ronaldo to shape the game and score a vital goal.

Turkey's players were a downcast group as they made their way through celebrating Brazilians, but they will reflect on a World Cup that made their name.

As for Brazil, they sing when they are winning and the song-sheets and the sambas were all in readiness as they made their way through the rain of Saitama and headed for their date with destiny - and Germany - in Yokohama.


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