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Saturday, 22 June, 2002, 18:20 GMT 19:20 UK

Dakar deflated by defeat

By Chris Simpson
in Dakar

Turkey's golden goal in Osaka came at around lunchtime in Dakar.

It took time for the realities of World Cup elimination to sink in.

Some fans refused to stalk, staring blankly at television screens in shop windows, watching in disbelief as the Turks romped and celebrated while the Senegalese players consoled each other.

One of the first fans to venture an opinion was Amdy Moustapha.

"We played badly, we lost, not much else to add," he said. "You have to play properly if you want to win. We didn't."

Interviewed on Friday, fellow trader Omar Fall had talked about "Senegal winning not only the World Cup, but the Universe Cup, if there is such a thing". Now he sobbed to himself, stomping down the Avenue Ponty, head in hands.

Pape Samba looked on sympathetically, but smiled. "The Lions did well, but ran out of luck at the end. God willing, we will bring it back next time."

Clutching his flag and trying to hold back the tears, Mokoro Diano said defeat did not matter. "We are very happy, very satisfied. We thank coach Bruno Metsu, we thank the Lions and we thank Africa for its support. I still have a lot of pride in our team."

"Everybody knows Senegal is stronger than Turkey," said Modou Faye. "But it wasn't our day. This is the will of God and we have to accept it Is God cruel sometimes? I suppose you could say that."

But other reactions were much less generous. Sitting disconsolately in the Rue Felix Fauré, tailor Souleymane rowed fiercely with driver Mortala over coach Bruno Metsu's tactics.

"We had no midfield today. What was Metsu thinking? He didn't even bring on any substitutes," argued Souleymane.

"We have a good coach," Mortala hit back. "It's football, we have to accept it."

Within minutes of the final whistle, as the reality of defeat sank in, the chanting and flag-waving began in earnest and supporters began to converge on the presidential palace.

" We all feel so deflated after the high of last week's match "
Senegalese journalist Natalia Antelava

They sang the now familiar chants, based on the teachings of spiritual leader Cheikh Amadou Bamba, credited my many supporters as having played a key role in the team's success.

But computer technician Yassin Diallo was not convinced by the celebrations. "People are doing this in spite of themselves. This is not what is in their hearts. What we really have here today is a kind of death."

Natalia Antelava, a Senegalese journalist who watched the match in the heart of America's Senegalese community in Harlem in New York, said fans were inconsolable.

"They were disappointed but also angry that we did not play as well as we have done in previous games," she said.

"We all feel so deflated after the high of last week's match when we overcame Sweden."


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