Turkey eyes victory against Czechs in Euro campaign
Turkey coach Fatih Terim will have to do without the services of six key players against the Czech Republic.Turkey hopes to put its Euro 2016 qualification campaign back on track when it takes on Czech Republic in a Group A match tonight in Istanbul.
The home side lost its first game of the campaign 3-0 at Iceland on Sept. 9, and a loss on home soil will seriously harm its hopes of qualifying for Euro 2016, having missed out on the last three major tournaments.
With the expansion of the European Championship to 24 teams, up from 16, the top two in each group will qualify automatically, along with the best third-place finisher, while the remaining eight third-place teams go into a playoff.
The last time Turkey played in the finals was Euro 2008 in Switzerland-Austria, which saw the Turks make a name as “comeback kings.”
One of the legendary games in that tournament was against Czech Republic. In the only competitive meeting between the two countries since the Czech independence, Nihat Kahveci struck twice in the last four minutes to take Fatih Terim’s side into the last eight at the expense of Karel Brückner’s Czechs. Forward Tuncay Şanlı finished the game as Turkey’s goalkeeper, after Volkan Demirel was dismissed for a foul two minutes into added time.
The first six competitive meetings between the two were all qualifiers that took place before the fall of Czechoslovakia, which won five times and drew once.
Coach Terim will have to do without Fenerbahçe goalkeeper Volkan Demirel, Galatasaray striker Burak Yılmaz, Beşiktaş striker Mustafa Pektemek and Bayer Leverkusen teammates Ömer Toprak and Hakan Çalhanoğlu due to injuries.
The experienced coach will be forced to modify his game plan as Toprak and Yılmaz were both in the starting 11 against Iceland, while Pektemek and Çalhanoğlu played in the second half as substitutes.
Also in Group A tonight, the Netherlands will have some catching up after a 2-1 defeat to the Czech Republic last month, as it hosts Kazakhstan.
The numbers are on the Dutch side in the first-ever game between the two countries, as the Netherlands has won its last 17 competitive home matches, and is undefeated on home soil in 34 competitive fixtures, winning 31 and drawing three, since a 2-0 loss to Portugal in a World Cup qualifier on Oct. 11, 2000. The Dutch have never lost a European Championship qualifier or playoff in the Netherlands.
Netherlands coach Guus Hiddink, on the other hand, is no stranger to Kazakhstan, as he recorded a 3-0 away win and a 2-1 home victory against the Central Asians during his time as Turkey coach in the Euro 2012 qualification campaign.
Elsewhere in Group A, Latvia, which kicked off its campaign in the group with a creditable 0-0 draw in Kazakhstan, will hope past results augur well as its takes on Iceland in Riga.