Scene set for season’s first Istanbul derby

Scene set for season’s first Istanbul derby

Scene set for season’s first Istanbul derby

Galatasaray coach Cesare Prandelli and Fenerbahçe coach İsmail Kartal (above) will be leading their teams for the first time in an Istanbul derby. The sides are level on 10 points, one behind Beşiktaş. AA Photo

Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe clash in the first Istanbul derby of the Spor Toto Super League season on Oct. 18, with both archrivals aiming for a victory to ease their problems.

Galatasaray, struggling with problems after chairman Ünal Aysal announced his resignation last month, has called for an extraordinary congress for Oct. 25.

Fenerbahçe, on the other hand, has been left out of the European competition over match-fixing allegations, despite winning the league last year, and domestic success is all chairman Aziz Yıldırım, who was sentenced to jail time over the allegations pending a retrial, can offer.

Cesare Prandelli’s Galatasaray sits in third place in the league standings on a goal difference, one place above Fenerbahçe, which also has 10 points from five games. 

The derby game has been overshadowed by the national team’s poor Euro 2016 qualification performance and the debate surrounding Turkey national coach Fatih Terim, but Galatasaray chairman Aysal has rushed to raise the tension, slamming the choice of referee for the match.

“We have real concerns about the referee assigned to the derby game,” Aysal said at a press conference Oct. 16.

The referee will be Cüneyt Çakır, who became the first Turkish referee to officiate a game in the World Cup in 40 years during last summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

“Last season, he sent off one of our players in the fourth minute and we lost 4-0 at home to Kasımpaşa,” Aysal said. “Now, as a coincidence, he was assigned to the derby. This is a move to intimidate us, we get the message.”

“You will all see, he will ruin the game,” he added. “Kicks will fly around, he will allow roughness. I hope I am proven wrong after the match.”

Fenerbahçe’s front, on the other hand, was much calmer ahead of the game, though the team continues to struggle with injuries.

“Our biggest problem is the injured players,” Mahmut Uslu, the club’s spokesperson, told Fenerbahçe TV.

Among the injured players are team regulars goalkeeper Volkan Demirel and midfielder Emre Belözoğlu and striker Moussa Sow. All three are doubtful for the game and coach İsmail Kartal is expected to make a last minute decision on whether to field them.

Uslu also sent messages of friendship to Fenerbahçe's archrival, trying to calm the tension. “We have been friends with Galatasaray and we hope to remain so. This rivalry between us helps the teams both socially and financially. But unfortunately, there is a winner in matches and there is a loser. I hope the match is played smoothly and we win,” he said.

Also on Oct. 18 in the Spor Toto Super League, Konya Torkuspor takes on Istanbul Başakşehir and Kayseri Karabükspor travels to Gaziantep.

In Oct. 19’s matches, league leader Beşiktaş hosts Sivasspor in Ankara, as the new home stadium for the Istanbul club is still under construction and its temporary base, the Atatürk Olympic Stadium, is under maintenance. Bursaspor will play Eskişehirspor, Trabzonspor hosts Mersin İdmanyurdu and Kasımpaşa visits Akhisar.

The last two games of Week Six are to be played on Oct. 20, when Gençlerbirliği hosts Kayserispor and Balıkesirspor travels to Çaykur Rize.