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SEMIFINAL MATCH

Brazil vs. Turkey

June 25, 2002|Mike Penner

*--* Wednesday, 4:30 a.m. PDT, at Saitama, Japan TV: ESPN, Channel 34 How they got here: First-place finisher in Group C, Brazil defeated Belgium, 2-0, in the second round and rallied on goals by Rivaldo and Ronaldinho to beat England in the quarterfinals, 2-1. Turkey, runner-up to Brazil in Group C, eliminated Japan, 1-0, in the second round and Senegal, 1-0, in the quarterfinals on a 94th-minute golden goal by Ilhan Mansiz About Brazil: Ronaldinho was the most impressive player on the field in the quarterfinal against England. He assisted on Rivaldo's equalizing goal after dribbling through the middle of the defense. His long, curling cross so badly deceived goalkeeper David Seaman that it wound up in the back of the net for the game-winner. But he will sit out the semifinal because of a second-half red card he received for elbowing defender Danny Mills in the face. Potentially faced with a two-game suspension, Ronaldinho had his ban limited to Wednesday's game in a decision by FIFA's disciplinary committee. Forward Ronaldo limped off with a thigh injury sustained in the quarterfinal, initially putting him in doubt for the Turkey match. But Monday, Ronaldo told Brazilian reporters he expected to play About Turkey: Coach Senol Gunes faces a dilemma as he plans for the biggest match in Turkey's history: Does he bench his struggling star and captain, Hakan Suker, and start instead Mansiz, who replaced Suker in the quarterfinal against Senegal and scored the only goal? Suker, 31, has scored 35 goals in his international career, but none in this tournament and none since April. "Hakan is our team captain and one of the most important players for us," Gunes said. "He was trying hard but he was really unlucky in some situations." Suker hasn't helped his cause by criticizing teammates for freezing him out and not passing him the ball. "It is true I was not able to create any goal opportunities," he said. "But look at that team. All the players in the midfield think only about themselves. They play to show up and draw attention to themselves. How am I supposed to receive passes under such conditions?" Outlook: Brazil was fortunate to have beaten Turkey, 2-1, in group play, benefiting from a disputed penalty and the ejection of two players. But Brazil shored up its defense, played 90 impressive minutes against England, appears to be peaking at precisely the right time and, well, Brazil is Brazil. For the third time in as many World Cups, samba will be heard in the stands at the final

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