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Tuesday, November 16, 1999 Published at 17:40 GMT

Sport: Football

Republic face Turkish lock-in

The Irish team and fans could be locked in the stadium for three hours

The Republic of Ireland team and their small platoon of fans could find themselves imprisoned for hours in the intimidating Ataturk Stadium, if they defeat Turkey to clinch a place in the Euro 2000 finals on Wednesday.

Even though the Irish have been treated well throughout their stay, they know they face a red-hot reception from the infamously wild Turkish fans when the action finally kicks off.

[ image: The Republic will recieve a typically hostile reception when the match kicks-off]
The Republic will recieve a typically hostile reception when the match kicks-off
The Republic's security personnel have minutely planned their exit route.

And although they feel there will be few problems if Ireland lose or suffer a goalless draw - which will put their hosts through on the away-goals rule after Saturday's 1-1 draw in Dublin - they have orders to keep players, supporters and travelling fans locked in the stadium for up to three hours after the final whistle, should they win.

That could mean the Turkish supporters, who have a fierce reputation for making visitors run a gauntlet of intimidation and missiles, turning their wrath onto their own team instead.

Turkish NTV broadcaster Ogan Tarwan said: "That is what happens sometimes.

"The supporters here are very passionate and if they feel Ireland have won the game unfairly or there is some bad tackling there could be trouble.

"But they also appreciate good play by the opposition, as when Chelsea went to Istanbul recently in the Champions League and won 5-0 against Galatasaray. They were generously applauded.

"But in a split-second things can change and the fans start throwing things at the Turkish side."

The stadium in Bursa, which took the Irish eight hours to reach via air, road, sea ferry and road again, holds only 20,000 and is the venue for the match.

But all tickets for the game were snapped up within three hours when they went on sale a few weeks ago and the atmosphere in provincial cities can be even more intimidating than in Istanbul.

Players, officials and fans will be kept back in the ground until surrounding streets are clear and then given a police escort to Istanbul airport.

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