Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian soccer fans were in mourning on Thursday as their team returned home with the prospect of missing out on a place in the 2002 World Cup looming ever closer. Brazil lost 2-1 to Argentina in Wednesday night's vital qualifier, leaving them tied in fourth place with Uruguay in the South American Group. If the Brazilians don't make it through, it will be the first time in World Cup history that they haven't qualified for the finals. It was an empty airport and not a single waiting fan that greeted the Brazilian team arriving back from Argentina. The fact that the team could not qualify weighed heavily on the players, but they haven't lost hope yet. "We played against a team, a strong team. They are the first in qualifying. They played at home, with the help of the supporters and they put a lot of pressure on the Brazilian team in the second half," said star player Rivaldo. The team's loss was front-page headlines in newspapers in Rio de Janeiro and the fact that the country is in national mourning was quite apparent from the empty beaches. The usually crowded Ipanema beach was virtually deserted, except perhaps for the tourists. Speaking about the team's prospects, one pessimistic fan, said, "I don't think so. I think there is a lack of enthusiasm. They are playing more for the money. They are not showing commitment. The Argentineans are much better." An Argentine beach vendor however was carrying out a personal celebration in Rio. He's lucky that Brazilian fans have a sense of humour and were indulging him, but that may not carry on for much longer.
Topics : Football