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World Cup dance peaks with Brazilian samba

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A sea of flags, banners, T-shirts, drums, tambourines and even wigs emblazoned with the Brazilian logo gained momentum in front of televisions spread throughout the borough early Sunday morning.

Shortly after 9 a.m., waves of celebration flooded the streets of Astoria in honor of Brazil’s 2-0 victory over Germany in Yokohama, Japan in the 2002 World Cup final.

Brazilian fans danced and sang the morning away along 31st Street, reveling in their national team’s record fifth World Cup championship. But a few miles away at Zum Stammtisch, a German restaurant in Glendale, the game’s flow sank dozens of European soccer fans into a state of dejection.

Spirits dampened considerably when Brazilian forward Ronaldo scored the game’s first goal midway through the second half. Inside the restaurant, Reiner Kleuker, 32, threw his hands in the air and said “Germany misplayed the ball. There’s a lot of pressure.”

The atmosphere became quieter and patrons looked crushed when Ronaldo tallied his second goal of the game to ensure the outcome. With a few minutes left in the match, several Zum Stammtisch patrons bridged the silence with cheers of encouragement, but most people remained silent. At the final whistle, everyone in the restaurant stood up and graciously applauded Brazil’s victory.

Mike Scheider, 24, put a positive spin on the result for Germans.     “Even though Germany lost, being second out of 30 teams is great,” he said. “They [Brazil] deserve lots of respect...In four years, we’ll show the world.”

Two hours earlier, however, joy and optimism filled the air in the Myrtle Avenue restaurant. With German flags draped around shoulders, painted on scalps, and waved from frantic fingers, devotees of the 2002 FIFA World Cup packed Zum Stammtisch to watch the championship match.

Complimentary bratwurst and steak and eggs were served to the crowd of some 80 people that crammed around tables and the bar in the hope of a victory for Germany. Even a few women dotted the audience, such as Irena Jankuniene, 32.

“I love to watch the World Cup,” Jankuniene said, adding she wanted Germany to win because a victory in a World Cup final would constitute a lifetime achievement. “No one will reach them.”

The gathering featured a multicultural European flavor.

Anthony Vaglica, 33, who is Italian, rooted for Germany because “I want to see the cup stay in Europe,” adding that he thought the final score would be 3-0 in favor of Germany.

Walter Meiser, 45, had gathered about 14 friends around him to watch the tournament’s conclusion. He said he expected the result to be 2-1 in favor of Germany, but that Brazil would be a good competitor.

“They're both going to fight well,’ Meiser said.

Charlie Killian, 59, traveled with four friends from Whitestone to Zum Stammtisch. He said he has been a fan of the tournament since 1954, when Germany won the first of its three World Cup titles.

“This is our hangout place,” Killian said.

Beer flowed freely even before the game started at 7 a.m. and the crowd erupted in whistles, claps and shouts of jubilation when the players took the field. While noisemakers and plenty of flag-waving created groundswells of enthusiasm, English and German shouts and curses punctuated the action as players attempted to score goals. At one point in the game, the name of the German goalkeeper, Oliver Kahn, resounded through the restaurant in a chant.

Jim Steiner, 62, said he expected good competition between the countries that qualified for the match reserved for the world’s top two soccer teams.

“These are two totally professional teams,” he said. “I expect Germany to win, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Brazil won. This is the best of it all.”

Unfortunately for German fans, Steiner’s prediction did come true. Neither team had scored by halftime and some fans left the restaurant. With a flag draped around his soldiers, Steven Stroble, 19, said he was going home to record the rest of the game and was still enthusiastic about a triumphant Germany.

“Germany’s got a great chance,” he said.

But the European nation’s prospects also departed the scene in the second half. After Jankuniene watched her national team fall behind and ultimately fade from the brightest light on the international sports stage, she sighed and said “you know, I’m upset. We could have done so much better.”

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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