Fenerbahçe gets lucky draw on European stage
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Fenerbahçe’s new signing Dirk Kuty of the Netherlands will be a key player in coach Aykut kocaman’s plans for Europe.
Fenerbahçe will be back in the European spotlight for their match against FC Vaslui of Romania in the third qualification round of the Champions League after completing a year-long ban for match-fixing allegations.
In the draw made June 20, Bursaspor was pitted against the winner of the third qualification round clash between Israel’s Maccabi Netanya and Kups Kuopi of Finland in the Europa League. Eskişehirspor, which won the first leg 2-0 against Scottish club St. Johnstone, will take on French giant Marseille if it goes through to the fourth round.
Fenerbahçe was barred from the Champions League last season by the Turkish Football Federation on accusations of match fixing. The club’s chairman Aziz Yıldırım was sentenced to six years and three months in prison on match-fixing charges July 2, while fellow board members İlhan Ekşioğlu, Şekip Mosturoğlu, Tamer Yelkovan and Cemil Turan were also found guilty of manipulating several games in the 2010-2011 Turkish championship, when Fenerbahçe won the title.
The Istanbul club will need to knock out two opponents before making it to the group stage. It will continue the competition in the Europa League if fails to beat Vaslui.
The first-leg matches in the Champions League third round will be played July 31 to Aug. 1 and return matches are scheduled to be held Aug. 7 and 8. Fenerbahçe will play its first game on its home turf.
Bursaspor, meanwhile, is happy with the draw. İrfan Koç, Bursaspor board member in charge of international relations, told Anatolia news agency that playing the first leg at home will be an advantage for the Anatolian side.
“We aim to be in the in the group stage of the Europa League, so we will play to win whomever our opponent is,” Koç said, adding that he believed the draw gave Bursaspor a major chance of advancing.
Bursaspor coach Ertuğrul Sağlam said both teams are weaker than Bursaspor. “One of my assistants will watch the Finish side this weekend,” he said. “We don’t want a road accident and we will take our opponent seriously.”
Kups Kuopi won the first leg 2-1 in Israel on July 19 and is considered the favorite to play Bursaspor.
The unlucky Turkish club of the draw was Eskişehirspor, which played its first game on the European stage in 27 years against St. Johnstone on June 19, beating the Scottish club 2-0.
The result boosted the Central Anatolian club’s chances of advancing to the next round where it will face nine-time French League champion Marseille.
“We’ve waited 27 years to get back into Europe so I’m delighted to win,” Eskişehirspor coach Ersun Yanal said after the victory against St. Johnstone.
“It was a tough match but I feel we deserved the victory. We still have work to do when we go to Scotland.”