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Just kebabs and tea in Sivas – hence the team’s success

March 31, 2009

“There is no nightlife in Sivas,” states Sivasspor coach Bulent Uygun.

This is why his team are surprise leaders of the Turkish championship.

Located in Anatolia’s bleak central heartland, Sivas is a tortuous 12-hour drive from the temptations of Istanbul. Turkey’s glittering beach resorts aren’t much closer.

You’d have thought the 38-year-old Uygun might have a bit more sympathy for his players. But to a man nicknamed “the soldier”, and whose website displays poems he has penned to Turkish generals and the Turkish Republic, discipline is key.

“There are only a few shops where my players can buy drinks but I’m in contact with the shop owners,” Uygun told Hurriyet newspaper.

“I am informed as soon as one of my players buys drinks and I warn him.”

With two months to go, Sivasspor have a real chance of breaking the Istanbul teams’ 24-year stranglehold on the title — and Uygun is excited.

“Sivasspor will be champions and show a good example to other Anatolian teams.”

He also relishes the prospect of minnows Sivasspor, with a budget of just $12 million, joining the Champions League.

But how will his clean-living team fare when swapping conservative Central Turkey for the drinking dens of Soho and Madrid?

PHOTO: A calf looks out of the back window of a cab as it is transported to shelter after a cold snap caused temperatures to fall below minus 22 C in the central Turkish town of Sivas, Jan. 11, 2002. REUTERS/Anatolian FS/WS

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