Fenerbahçe seeks to heal wounds against strong Trabzonspor
AA photoA renewed Fenerbahçe, the Istanbul side which failed to impress fans in both the league opening and an UEFA Europa League playoff game, will take on an assertive Trabzonspor on Aug. 20 in the highlight game of the second league week.
The game between the historic rivals comes after the Canaries bowed 2-0 to Macedonian underdog FK Vardar late on Aug. 17 in the first leg of a Europa League playoff match.
The team tried to “play it right” against a “disorganized” rival, said a disappointed Fenerbahçe coach Aykut Kocaman, who took over the helm this summer in high hopes.
“We left our qualifying chances to Istanbul,” he said, expressing his confidence in his team.
Following three years of failure in the domestic league, Fenerbahçe seeks a fresh beginning under Kocaman, one of its former coaches and milestone players, and a 20th title.
The Istanbul giant kept Dutch star Robin van Persie, Turkish international Mehmet Topal and former Liverpool regular Martin Skertel on board and it signed with new stars, including French attacker from Olympique Lyon, Mathieu Valbuena, and Spanish striker from Villareal, Roberto Soldado, in the summer. Fener also added Chilean Mauricio Isla from Cagliari Calcio, Moroccan Nabil Dirar from Monaco, Cameroonian Carlos Kameni from Malaga and Turkish international Mehmet Ekici from Trabzonspor to its squad.
However, the 2-2 league opening draw was seen as a big failure when it visited Göztepe, a newcomer to the league from the Aegean province of İzmir.
Trabzon hopeful of win
Trabzon, for its side, launched its campaign with title hopes on its 50th anniversary of foundation and managed to beat Atıker Konyasor at home.
The team, which saw a major change before the start of the second half of the past season, has also brought back Turkey international Burak Yılmaz from China and signed with Slovakian Juraj Kucka and Belgian Theo Bongonda.
Trabzonspor board member Gökhan Saral told state-run Anadolu Agency before the Fener game that the team is struggling hard to achieve a much desired status.
“Today, we are a team with even bigger goals,” he said.
“We believe that we will get a good result in Istanbul and keep on moving,” he added.
Trabzonspor and Bursaspor are the two Turkish teams to have ever clinched the league title other than the Istanbul giants Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş.
Bursa will take on Alanyaspor on Aug. 19 as Medipol Başakşehir, last year’s runner-up, will visit Kardemir Karabükspor. Sivasspor and Malatyaspor, the two other newcomers to the league, will clash in Sivas.
Galatarasaray, which started the season with an impressive 4-1 home win against Kayserispor, will travel to the Turkish capital Ankara to face Osmanlıspor.
French Bafetimbi Gomis, who flew to Istanbul from the Premier League’s Swansea, scored twice in the opening game as Moroccan Younes Belhanda, who came from Dynamo Kyiv, scored another in the first game, sending good signals to resented fans and putting an end to concerns after the leave of striker Lukas Podolski and playmaker Wesley Sneijder.
On Aug. 20, Antalyaspor will host Akhisar Belediye. Konyaspor will take on Ankara’s Gençlerbirliği in the closing game of the week on Aug. 21.