Samba with Turkey more than a friendly for Brazilian stars
İsmail Er ISTANBUL
Neymar jokes with goalkeeper coach Claudio Taffarel, who is also Galatasaray's assistant coach, during Brazil's training session in Istanbul on Nov. 10. AA PhotoBrazilian international Neymar did not hide his hesitation before the Nov. 12 friendly against Turkey, telling daily Hürriyet that Atletico Madrid’s Arda Turan, a La Liga rival, was a formidable opponent.
“Arda Turan is a great talent,” the Barcelona striker said on the sidelines during training at Istanbul’s Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadium pitch, home for the game.
“He had a great performance last year. It is really difficult to play against him.”
Atletico Madrid clinched the league title in Spain last year, after a 1-1 away draw against the Catalan Giants.
Turkey will take on Brazil at 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 12 before the Euro 2016 qualifier against Kazakhstan on Nov. 16 at Türk Telekom Arena in Istanbul.
Neymar also noted there were many successful Brazilian players currently plying their trade in Turkey.
Coach Dunga said he was disappointed not to see Turkey at the FIFA World Cup last summer, recalling memories from the 2002 World Cup.
“The Turkish national team is used to overcoming difficulties. I cannot forget the excitement at the 2002 World Cup. It all depends on how much the players wish [to win]. They have physically strong players,” he said.
Turkey was matched up against Brazil in the group stages and semi-finals at the 2002 tournament, narrowly losing both games.
Turkey will come to the upcoming tournaments with a team that merges talented young players with experienced ones, Dunga said.
The former star said Brazil was also shedding skin, highlighted by the fact that the young Neymar is now the captain of the team.
Revisiting Turkey also means a lot for Claudio Taffarel, who clinched the UEFA Cup, and UEFA Super Cup in 2000, as well as two league titles with Galatasaray. The former goalkeeper is currently a trainer for both the Brazilian national team and Galatasaray.
“It is an honor and joy for me,” he said, regarding his participation in the fixture.
“With my new post [at the national team] we had games in Tokyo, Beijing and Singapore, but playing against Turkey is very emotional for me.”
Turkey’s coach Fatih Terim also said at a Nov. 11 press conference that Turkish people feel great sympathy for the Brazilian team.
“I would like to say welcome to them once again,” Terim said. “Dunga was a very big player and is now a very good coach; and would we like to see [Galatasaray’s Felipe] Melo on the pitch? Yes, I personally would.”
Terim did not call up Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen regulars Ömer Toprak and Hakan Çalhanoğlu for the two matches. Both Turkish internationals were allegedly involved in an incident that led to escalated tension with Besiktaş winger Gökhan Töre.
Turkish media reported that Gökhan had threatened the two other players with a gun while Turkey was in a pre-match camp at a hotel ahead of group game against Netherlands on Oct. 15, 2013.
Ömer and Hakan had been left out of the Turkish squad for the previous Czech Republic and Latvia group matches due to injuries, but both footballers recently played for their club’s Champions League match against Zenit St. Petersburg on Nov. 4.
Terim said at the press conference that time might change his stance regarding the two players.