Depleted Ankaragücü scores emotional win against Mersin

Depleted Ankaragücü scores emotional win against Mersin

MERSİN - Hürriyet Daily News
Depleted Ankaragücü scores emotional win against Mersin

Ankaragücü players celebrate their surprising 2-1 victory over Mersin İdman Yurdu in a league game. Ankaragücü continues its relegation battle with a squad of 18 players. DHA photo

On a night including victories from former champions Galatasaray, Trabzonspor and Bursaspor, Ankaragücü managed to put up the most impressive result on Jan. 3.

The team from the capital city beat Mersin İdman Yurdu 2-1, winning a Spor Toto Super League game in which it was completely written off beforehand.

Leader Galatasaray crushed Istanbul BB 4-1 to maintain its spell atop standings, Trabzonspor enjoyed a 2-1 victory over Manisaspor, thanks to a late goal by Burak Yılmaz, and Bursaspor got only the second win in three months as the second part of the Super League started that night. However, it was down to Ankaragücü, the league’s bottom-dweller, to steal the show.

The team has lost virtually all of its squad during the mid-season break due to a failure to pay the players following a financial and administration crisis.

Ergin Keleş opened the scoring on the opening seconds of the match, thanks to sloppy defending by Mersin. The Mediterranean team piled on the pressure but was stopped by Ankaragücü goalkeeper Bora Körk most of the time. Veteran midfielder Erman Özgür finally equalized in the 67th minute, but Ankaragücü regained the lead with a fast counterattack. Keleş got the ball to dribble past two Mersin defenders and goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic, who cleared his line awfully early to leave an open goal for the striker to score.

Starting with six players from its reserve squad, Ankaragücü was written off against a Mersin İdman Yurdu side, which was recounted as one of the most successful teams finishing the first part of the season on the sixth spot. The Mediterranean team was performing above expectations in its return to top-flight and was on a nine-match unbeaten run.

Bottom team
Ankaragücü, even before losing half of its squad, was not showing any presence in the league, winning only one of its 17 matches. The odds were so against the team from the capital city that İddaa, the official betting agency, took the game from its program following a huge number of bets played for Mersin.

Despite the defeat, Mersin coach Nurullah Sağlam remained calm.

“Losing is a part of the game’s nature, and we have seen that today,” he said in the post-match press conference. “I didn’t go too hard on my players in the dressing room.”

On the other side, coach Hakan Kutlu was understandably proud.

“We are a team that has lost 17 players since the start of the season and we have just 18 players in our squad, not the 19th,” Kutlu said. “I trust my players, but I don’t know what will happen next.” Chairman İbrahim Altınyuva was more defiant. “I hope this win helps make some men, who left us in a dire situation even without saying goodbye, question themselves,” he said.