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Loss to France? Worst pssible thing!

Lots of Brazilians say they will now root for former colonial power Portugal.

india Updated: Jul 03, 2006 15:22 IST

Tears flowed as disappointment gripped Brazil on Saturday after its star-studded World Cup soccer team was beaten 1-0 by France, ending its hopes of a sixth championship.

"This was the worst thing that could have happened -- to lose to France again," said Fabio Santos, 39, a fan in Sao Paulo.

Brazil, which won the previous World Cup championship in 2002 and is the only country to have won five World Cup titles, proudly considers itself a global soccer superpower.

But it lost to France in the 1998 World Cup final and many Brazilians had prayed their team would not be jinxed again when they met France on Saturday in Frankfurt, Germany.

Brazil's team struggled to find its rhythm and a tough French defense quieted Brazilian strikers.

"We're stranded here crying, feeling enormous frustration," said Ricardo Santos, one of the organizers of the cheering section on a Rio de Janeiro street where some 10,000 people watched the game.

Nearby, Julio Gomes, a 30-year-old bank employee, held his weeping girlfriend.

Many Brazilian fans blamed the coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira, for not playing more of his young reserve players once it became clear the veteran squad was producing few scoring opportunities.

"Parreira is crazy," said Pepe Roberto, 46, a fan in Sao Paulo.

In Rio de Janeiro, the gymnasium of a top Carnival samba school where thousands of people had gathered to watch the game on giant screens emptied within minutes of the final whistle. Many fans were tearful.

Fans said Parreira should have used younger players like Robinho and Cicinho from the start.

"The only time the team played really well was against Japan with these (young) players, but no, Parreira had to go back to the old scheme," said Aldo Santos, a doorman who watched the game on a small black-and-white TV.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva telephoned Parreira after the loss to express his condolences.

Despite the sadness, some Brazilians vowed to keep their barbecues and parties going all night.

With tears in their eyes, about 2,000 residents of Recife in northeastern Brazil danced and sang the hymn of Brazil's fans -- "I am Brazilian and I am very proud."

Lots of Brazilians say they will now root for former colonial power Portugal, which defeated England earlier on Saturday to qualify for a semi-final match against France.

Portugal's coach is Luiz Felipe Scolari, a Brazilian who won the 2002 World Cup as Brazil's coach.