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Wednesday, 26 June, 2002, 19:12 GMT 20:12 UK

Euphoria in Sao Paulo

By Tom Gibb
BBC correspondent in Sao Paulo

Brazil have won through to the World Cup final - but they made their fans suffer first.

The top floor of O'Malleys Pub in Sao Paulo was packed with several hundred Brazilian supporters watching on a giant screen, most of them dressed in the national colours and armed with bottles of beer.

Through the whole of the first half they were on the edge of their seats as Brazil repeatedly attacked the Turkish goal but failed to score.

At half time there were many worried faces - watching the worried face of the Brazilian coach on the giant screen.

In the run-up to the World Cup, Brazil struggled to qualify and were beaten by South American teams they would normally easily defeat.

Most Brazilian fans expected to win the game against Turkey - but there was a sneaking worry that the recent past might come back to haunt them.

Wild jubilation

All that ended when Ronaldo scored near the start of the second half.

A huge shout went up from the crowd with people hooting horns, blowing whistles and setting off fire crackers in the street outside.

So far, he is the undoubted hero of the World Cup for Brazil.

Before the game, newspapers were filled with pictures of his new "half moon" haircut - all shaven except for a crescent-shaped patch at the front.

Commentators said it was designed to rival that of his Turkish opponents.

The fans' suffering carried on through most of the second half.

They shouted insults at the players every time Brazil failed to score from their many chances.

There were groans with people hiding their heads in their hands when the Turkish striker Ilian Mansiz almost scored.

Streets deserted

The whole of Sao Paulo stopped for the game - which kicked off at 0830 local time - normally the height of rush hour in South America's largest city.

" Only Brazil can beat Brazil "
Andre Piza

Streets were deserted as people crammed into bars and cafes to watch.

Even the stock exchange remained closed.

Brazil's yellow and green colours are everywhere: people wear T-shirts and bandanas; flags hang from windows and fly from cars.

Some have even wrapped up their dogs in the Brazilian colours.

High hopes

When Brazil face Germany in the final they will be playing to bring the cup home for a fifth time - putting them well ahead of any other country.

Germany has won the cup three times - so if they win they will equal Brazil's record.

Most fans now expect Brazil to win.

"Brazil will be the champions," was the chant on the lips of many as they left the pub.

But some sneaking nervousness remains.

"Only Brazil can beat Brazil," said Andre Piza.

"This is a World Cup final and they can get nervous and be beaten by their anxiety - even if they are favourites to win."

For many Brazilians, winning the World Cup would bring a welcome boost when the country is facing serious economic problems.

"The whole country will stop for this," said Camila Campelo.

"The economy is very bad and football is all that is left for us. It is really important."


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