Turkey faces do-or-die match against Czech Republic
REUTERS photoDespite two consecutive losses and disjointed performances in the opening Euro 2016 group games, Turkey still harbors hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages of Euro 2016, according to coach Fatih Terim.
As a player, as coach and in my private life, I have never accepted giving in or surrendering,” Terim said after a 3-0 defeat against defending champion Spain on June 17.
He also backed playmaker Arda Turan, the Barcelona player who has so far failed to fulfill expectations for Turkey. Terim had harsh words for the fans who booed Turan during the Spain match.
“Whatever happens, that shouldn’t happen,” he told media at the Stadium Nice after the Group D tie.
“Expectations were very high for the team, but nobody deserves that, we need to enjoy being here.”
After Spain scored the last of their three goals in the 48th minute, Turkish fans booed the Barcelona player whenever he received the ball.
“Obviously this had an impact on our team,” Terim said.
The Spanish fans chanted Turan’s name in response to the booing and in solidarity with the embattled 29-year-old, who has been capped 92 times for Turkey but has received criticism at home for his performance during Euro 2016.
“It is a difficult situation for a player to experience the whistles of your own fans,” Andres Iniesta, Turan’s Barcelona teammate, told reporters.
“It leaves a bad taste in the mouth for me, and for Arda. Afterwards I wished him the best for the rest of the tournament as I always want the best for my teammates,” Iniesta added.
After an out-of-sorts display in their Group D opener, a 1-0 defeat to Croatia on June 12, Turan, who was substituted during the game, asked for “forgiveness” on Turkish television.
Turkey lost just one game in 16 coming into the European Championship but faced a wave of criticism back home after the Croatia loss.
Turkey now needs to beat the Czech Republic in their final match on Tuesday and hope other results go their way to have any chance of progressing as one of the four best third-placed sides from the six groups.
Czech Republic captain Tomas Rosicky is likely to miss its crunch match against Turkey next week after pulling up with a hamstring injury in a last-gasp 2-2 draw with Croatia on June 17.
Midfielder Rosicky, who only recently returned from injury having missed most of the season for his club Arsenal, clutched the back of his thigh in the dying seconds of the match.
With all the Czech substitutions already made, he struggled on until the final whistle but looked visibly in discomfort.
“I knew we needed a point against Croatia, so I pushed it to the maximum. Unfortunately I paid for it,” Rosicky was quoted as saying by Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes on their website.
“The boys will have a great match for everything. I certainly will not be in it.”
The 35-year-old helped get the Czechs back into the match against Croatia, crossing for Milan Skoda to head their first goal and narrow the score to 2-1 with 15 minutes remaining.
Czech coach Pavel Vrba held out some hope for Rosicky.
“I would be cautious and would wait for the doctor’s opinion,” Vrba told a news conference, according to Mlada Fronta Dnes.
The Czechs will finish the group games against Turkey, knowing a win should be enough to get them through to the last 16.
UEFA hit both Croatia and Turkey with disciplinary procedures on June 18 following flare-throwing incidents at Euro 2016 matches, as the Croatian press raged at its “shameful” fans.
Croatian fans hurled flares on to the pitch in the 86th minute of the 2-2 draw with Czech Republic in Saint Etienne on June 18, while Turkish fans let off flares after the defeat by Spain.
UEFA accused Croatia of crowd disturbances, racist behavior, setting off fireworks and throwing objects. It accused Turkey fans over pitch invasions, throwing objects and setting off fireworks.
Croatian coach Ante Cacic called the country’s fans “sports terrorists” after the incidents, which led to a four-minute halt to the match.