Fener, Trabzonspor set for tense season finale

Fener, Trabzonspor set for tense season finale

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Fener, Trabzonspor set for tense season finale

Fenerbahçe right back Gökhan Gönül (L) is challenged by Trabzonspor’s Paulo Henrique during a league game between the two teams. HÜRRİYET photo, Süleyman ARAT

Titleholder Fenerbahçe and Trabzonspor will clash tonight in the Ziraat Turkish Cup final, which will serve as the season finale for the national football campaign’s top-level.

For the two Turkish football giants, tonight’s game in Ankara will mean going out on a high note.

Fenerbahçe fell short in its bid for a treble and Trabzonspor had a league campaign it would rather not remember.

The Yellow Canaries were knocked out of the Europa League semifinals at the hands of eventual runner-up Benfica earlier this month. They also ended a second consecutive league season behind archrivals Galatasaray, so the cup is the final chance of a trophy for Aykut Kocaman’s team in a long season where they will have played 64 matches.

“With this game, we will have our name in history books as a team that has played 64 out of 65 possible games, except the Europa League,” Kocaman was quoted as saying on the game’s official program. “We want a Turkish Cup to be a part of this history.”

“We want to return from Ankara with the trophy, just as we come as the titleholder. We have the strength to do it,” Kocaman added.

Fenerbahçe crushed Bursaspor 4-0 in last year’s final to put an end to its infamous 29-year streak without a trophy.

Eight-time winner Trabzonspor, on the other hand, will try to end its turbulent season on a high note. The club fell far below its expectations, both in the league and in Europe. It finished the league in ninth spot and 25 points behind champions Galatasaray. In the Europa League preliminaries, the club failed to break the goalless deadlock against Hungary’s Videoton in two games, and failed to make it into the second-tier club competition.

The problems led to the resignation of veteran Şenol Güneş in midseason, and appointment of Tolunay Kafkas. Recently, the club improved its form, but Kafkas admitted it was “a little too late.”

Heated battles

The two teams’ recent meetings were tense encounters, especially since both Fenerbahçe and Trabzonspor were embroiled in a match-fixing scandal concerning the Spor Toto Super League’s 2010-2011 season.

Fenerbahçe won the campaign over Trabzonspor thanks to a single goal in head-to-head records, but only six weeks after the title, a wide match-fixing investigation went public with a total of 93 football officials, players and club owners from some 10 Turkish clubs listed as suspects.

While the case was ongoing, Fenerbahçe was barred from the Champions League upon a decision by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF), and European football governing body, UEFA, decided to include Trabzonspor instead of the Istanbul team.

A year later, chairman Aziz Yıldırım and four members from Fenerbahçe were given prison sentences pending appeal. Despite the court verdict, the TFF ruled that even though there were efforts to manipulate games, they were not reflected on the pitch, and refused Trabzonspor’s requests to be handed the trophy.

Both Fener and Trabzon fans felt that the process was unjust and it led to tense and hostile matches between the two teams. Tonight’s rendition of this heated rivalry starts at 8:45 p.m.