Turkey meets Hungary in last exit before Brazil
Turkish forward Umut Bulut (front) celebrates a goal in this file photo. Turkish national football team takes on Hungary in a crucial game in the 2014 World Cup European qualifying Group D. The Netherlands hosts Romania also tonight. Hürriyet photo
Turkey meets Hungary in a do-or-die game in the 2014 World Cup qualifying round tonight.
The national team will need an almost perfect record in its remaining five matches if it is to get a place in football’s biggest tournament in Brazil next year and it will definitely need a win tonight at Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium.
The Netherlands are the runaway leader in Group D with a perfect record of 15 points from five matches, while Romania and Hungary, both at 10 points, follow. Turkey has just six points after five matches and will need a win tonight to turn things around and qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 2002.
Speaking after last week’s 2-0 win over Andorra, the team’s star attacker Arda Turan promised a solid display against Hungary.
“We have a final-like game against Hungary now,” the Atletico Madrid ace said. “If we win that, the following games in September will be quite different.”
What Turan means by “different” is that Turkey started the group well below expectations, with just one win out of four matches. After losing to the Netherlands, Romania and Hungary, the main contenders in the group, Turkey’s chances looked all but over. However, after a win over Andorra on a night where Romania snatched a 2-2 draw against Hungary with a late goal, Turkey has the chance to come closer to the leading pack.
The Netherlands takes on Romania in Amsterdam, while Turkey will be rooting for the Dutch to take away all three points. Estonia will meet Andorra in Tallinn in the other game in the group.
Despite the win, Turkey was far from impressive against an Andorran side, who has conceded 13 goals in four matches, but playmaker Selçuk İnan said that the performance against the continental minnows was irrelevant.
“Only getting the win mattered against Andorra,” said İnan, who scored the opening goal with one of his trademark free kicks. “It’s the [Hungary] game that we have been talking about with teammates, everyday. We all know how important that game is. It could be even the biggest game of our history. We are ready. We want to win and continue on our path,” the Galatasaray star added.
Turkey has been missing from the World Cup since 2002, where it enjoyed its biggest ever success with a third-place finish.