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A Long Way From Istanbul, Turkey's Sivasspor Succeeds
Reuters, March 31st, 2009 3:15PM

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Solid defense, scoring and solitude: these are apparently the three keys to success for Turkish team Sivasspor, which is the surprise leader of the Super League, ahead of perennial powers Galatasaray and Fenerbache, which each hold the record of 17 titles. "Located in Anatolia's bleak central heartland" and "a tortuous 12-hour drive from the temptations of Istanbul," Sivas serves a serene setting for its soccer players.

"There is no nightlife in Sivas. There are only a few shops where my players can buy drinks, but I'm in contact with the shop owners. I am informed as soon as one of my players buys drinks," warns 38-year-old coach Bulent Uygun, who not surprisingly carries the nickname "The Soldier."

Although there are two months to go in the season and it holds just a one-point lead, Sivasspor is intent on "breaking the Istanbul teams' 24-year stranglehold on the title," writes Reuters Alexandra Hudson. If it can, a spot in the Champions League is certain, causing Hudson to inquire how will the "clean-living team fares when swapping conservative Central Turkey for the drinking dens of Soho and Madrid?

 

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