Turkey looks to snag first win on road to 2014 Cup
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish attacker Arda Turan reacts after missing a chance against the Netherlands. AA photoThe Turkish national football team looks to collect its maiden points when it hosts Estonia on the road to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Turkey hosts the Baltic opponent in a World Cup European qualifying Group D game at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium tonight.
The home team will try to bounce back from a 2-0 opening-day defeat to the Netherlands on Sept. 8.
Although the Oranje came to the game as the heavy favorite, Turkey finally found its change and looked to have a chance to equalize the score and come away with at least one point before Luciano Narsingh scored the second goal to close the door.
After the game, Turkish coach Abdullah Avcı came under criticism for his decision to place Hamit Altıntop, a natural midfielder, at the right back position to defend against former Bayern Munich teammate Arjen Robben. Avcı also chose not to use Galatasaray playmaker Selçuk İnan during the game.
“Selçuk is our most valuable player, as all of our team members are considered to be the most valuable players to us. He will have his time on the pitch when the time is right,” Avcı said during a press conference Sept. 10. “At the end of the day the Netherlands did not play with Bundesliga top goal scorer Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, or Dirk Kuyt, who is the most valuable international player in the Turkish league right now.”
Avcı said he understood the criticism, but expected respect.
“I am expecting criticism and I fully understand it, but I believe I made the healthiest decision,” he said. “But I make the decisions. There is a change at the national team and everyone should respect that. Then we will see what happens.”
Avcı was brought to the helm last year after Turkey failed to make it to the Euro 2012 in Ukraine and Poland. Experienced gaffer Guus Hiddink, whose spells with South Korea, Russia and Australia made him one of the most successful coaches in international football, was sacked after the team lost 3-0 to Croatia in the European championship playoffs. Avcı, a former U-20 coach, was put in as coach and started his term by adding fresh faces to the squad, including German-born Turks such as Tunay Torun, Hasan Ali Kaldırım and Sercan Sararer.
The team’s friendly tour in the summer raised hopes about the “new Turkey,” especially with convincing victories over Portugal and Ukraine. However, a 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands, a team similarly undergoing a rebuilding process with Louis Van Gaal at the helm, was a poor start for Turkey.
Turkey will be a favorite against Estonia but Avcı said that the visitors will not be pushovers.
Avcı warns players against complacency
“We have watched their most recent games. They are a team on the rise,” the coach said. “They are a solid side who does not give up easily.”
Estonia lost 2-0 to Romania on the first day of the group, while Hungary topped the group following a comfortable 5-0 win over Andorra.
Hungary’s credentials will be tested tonight when it hosts the Netherlands at the Ferenc Varos Stadium.
Romania hosts minnow Andorra in the other Group D game.
Tonight’s game at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium starts at 9 p.m. and will be broadcast live on Star.