ROAD TO KOREA/JAPAN
|Turkey lost the two-horse race with Sweden
for the top position in UEFA group 4, but qualified anyway after beating Austria comfortably in the play-offs.
here for details
|Participations: (1) 1954
|Best placing: First round 1954
|Topscorers: Mamat Suat and
Sargun Burhan, 3 goals
|Hakan Sükür is Turkey's national
hero and everyone expects him to score the goals to carry the team to
the knock-out stages. His strength is mainly in the air, but he is also quite
comfortable with the ball at his feet in addition to having a nose for goal.
VERDICT: Through to KO stage
|We believe Turkey will edge out China and
Costa Rica to follow Brazil into the knock-out part of the tournament. Turkey have
developed into a highly competitive team in recent years and impressed from time to time in Euro
2000 coming through a trickier preliminary group than this one.
IMPROVING YEAR BY YEAR
by Ruud Doevendans
The Turks showed some mental toughness in the qualification stages. They
were virtually qualified leading 1-0 in the home match against Sweden, when
they conceded two late goals. Sweden went to Asia, Turkey had to go into the
play-offs. A big disappointment for soccer-mad Turkey, but in these two
games against Austria they had no troubles at all. A 1-0 win away in Vienna
was followed by a smashing 5-0 at home. Turkey qualified for the first time
since 1954. And it’s well deserved, because Turkey has a nice team and I am
glad that they will be at the World Cup. They have improved year by year and
are now among the top 10 nations in Europe.
Turkey have drawn an easy group, although they are not in the position to
underestimate anyone. But Turkey should be capable of beating both China and
Costa Rica, and on a given day should not necessarily be without a chance
against a Brazil that’s not at their peak. Qualifying in this group will
bring them against an opponent from group H (Japan, Belgium, Russia,
Tunisia). Another match that is open. An occasional quarterfinal will be the
end of the show, because in that case they will most likely face Argentina. Turkey
is not that good yet to surprise the real top teams.
They have a lot of good players. The thing is, let them play as a team. In
that respect, it was a very good sign that they could withstand the pressure
in the play-off after being so disappointed against the Swedes. Rüstü is a
good goalkeeper. He must take care of staying healthy, because I haven’t
seen any other Turkish goalie who is near to his quality. In defence new
coach Senol Gunes (he was a great goalie in his days) recalled Bülent, the
Galatasaray-captain. When Alpay is fit, he is another certain choice. If he’
s not, Senol could turn to Emre Asik. Ogün will lead the defence. Turkey
usually plays a 5-3-2, and the wingbacks can be Ümit Davala or Tayfun at
right, and Hakan Ünsal or Abdullah left. Especially Abdullah is a very
gifted player with a smoot left foot, but he lacks some velocity.
Another recall in midfield. Tugay came back, and he’s a fine
midfielder. He is strong on the ball, has vision and can direct the play.
There are a lot of workhorses in midfield, Okan a certainty although the
Internazionale-midfielder has not had much time on the field this year.
Furthermore, there is Tayfur, Ergün and Mehmet. All of them useful, but
nothing special beyond that. At the left side of midfield, Hasan Sas can do a lot
of damage to opponents, although he tries so many difficult things that most
of them end up without success. It’s too bad that Sergen, a beautifully
gifted player although he lacks a bit mentality, will not play in Asia. He
is injured, and coaches don’t seem to like his style of play. He’s just the
kind of player Turkey needs, although I am the first to be critical when a
player won’t do his work. And that’s what is often the case with Sergen. He’
s the Turkish Okocha or Djalminha. Every fan loves them, but coaches get
insane because of them.
In attack, they still have the big man Hakan Sükür. Topscorer of Turkey, but
he never played a major role abroad although he was at some big clubs in Italy.
Strange. This Hakan has a lot. He’s tall, strong, still rather quick and he
can finish. But he needs a lot of movement around him, and that’s
not what you get at most Italian clubs. Still, his record for Turkey is
impressive. He could be partnered by Arif (a veteran), Ümit Karan, Nihat,
Ilhan or even Leverkusen-man Yildiray Bastürk, who has made his name this
We're looking forward to the Turkish contribution. A good team with a lot of
emotion. Don’t expect them to be title contenders, but they are good for a
A BRIEF WORLD CUP HISTORY
by Jan Alsos
Turkey have only qualified for one World Cup, Switzerland
1954, but were eliminated in the first round having been involved in some high-scoring
games. West Germany won the first round play-off 7-2 after Turkey themselves had
demolished South Korea 7-0.
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