Galatasaray set for first test under new coach

Galatasaray set for first test under new coach

Galatasaray set for first test under new coach

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Defending Spor Toto Super League champion Galatasaray will play its first game under its new coach on Nov. 29 when it makes a short trip to city rival Kasımpaşaspor.

Mustafa Denizli signed a one-and-a-half year contract with the Istanbul club on Nov. 26 and is ready to lead the troubled team against Kasımpaşa.

Galatasaray sacked coach Hamza Hamzaoğlu last week and played two games under interim coach Claduio Taffarel, drawing 3-3 against Antalyaspor last weekend and losing 2-0 at Atlético Madrid in the Champions League.

With the loss, the team lost its chance of advancing to the round of 16 and will continue in the Europa League, provided it does not lose at home to Astana in the last group match on Dec. 8.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Galatasaray Chairman Dursun Özbek after signing the contract, the 66-year-old Denizli said he was happy to be back at the club.

“From today, the past is past, we will not question things done in the past,” said Denizli, who will receive $4.5 million for the contract, and an additional $500,000 bonus if Galatasaray wins the domestic league. “We will be planning a new road map from tomorrow to achieve success,” he added.

Denizli is an experienced figure who has coached Galatasaray, Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and the Turkish international team, as well as other top-flight clubs, such as Iranian giants Persepolis. He is the only coach to have won Turkish league titles with the “Three Big” Istanbul clubs.

Denizli took over as Galatasaray coach from Germany’s Jupp Derwall in the 1987-1988 season after working as his assistant for three years and led the club to the semifinals in the European Champions’ Cup.  

He also coached the Turkish national team at the 2000 European Football Championships co-hosted by the Netherlands and Belgium, leading his team to the quarterfinals.

Denizli was hopeful about the future of Galatasaray. “We do not have dark days ahead, we do not have dark clouds over the club, it’s just a little bit foggy,” said the experienced coach.

“Crisis and pressure have been my brothers during my coaching career. Now we will look at the problems and come up with solutions. By dealing with these crises and pressure, we open new ways and develop ourselves,” he added.

Also in the Spor Toto Super League this weekend, Sivasspor hosts Başakşehir and cellar-dweller Eskişehirspor takes on Mersin İdman Yurdu, which also sits in the relegation zone, on Nov. 28.

On Nov. 29, Gençlerbirliği will hope to climb above visiting Gaziantepspor in the standings and stay clear of the drop zone.