Turkey in first test with Avcı

Turkey in first test with Avcı

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey in first test with Avcı

Members of the Turkish national football team squad listen to coach Abdullah Avcı during a training session in Bursa. Avcı and his fairly-young squad face their first test tonight in a friendly game against Slovakia. AA photo

The Turkish national football squad takes on Slovakia in a friendly game tonight in what will be the first test of national coach Abdullah Avcı.

Avcı, who replaced world-famous Guus Hiddink after the country failed to reach Euro 2012, has already included some fresh faces in the squad and is ready to have more in the future.

“Although our national team failed to make it to the last two major tournaments [2010 World Cup and Euro 2012], I have full confidence in the skill and potential of Turkish footballers,” Avcı told a press conference in Bursa yesterday. “Our target is to make it to the 2014 World Cup finals as a leader in our qualifying group, and we hope to make a good start with the first match in September.”

Tonight’s game against Slovakia will be the first step in giving the Turkish players “a new football philosophy,” the former Istanbul BB coach said.

“I have included new names in the squad for this game to be able to observe their performances,” said Avcı. “No one should have any doubt that the selection of players for the team will be made fairly in the new era.”

Avcı’s squad for the friendly game is also a rather young one; at 28, Toulouse forward Umut Bulut is the oldest player in the squad.

Beşiktaş forward Mustafa Pektemek is one of the new call-ups in the attacking line, joining Trabzonspor’s Burak Yılmaz, the leading goal scorer in Turkey’s Spor Toto Super League, Rennes striker Mevlüt Erdinç and Hertha Berlin’s Tunay Torun.

Eskişehirspor’s Alper Potuk, Kaiserslautern’s Olcay Şahan, Trabzonspor’s Olcan Adın and Beşiktaş’s Necip Uysal are the fresh midfielders, joining familiar names such as Arda Turan of Atletico Madrid, Werder Bremen’s Mehmet Ekici, Real Madrid’s Nuri Şahin and Valencia midfielder Mehmet Topal. In the defensive line, Galatasaray’s young center back Semih Kaya, Kayserispor defender Hasan Ali Kaldırım and Bursaspor’s Serdar Aziz are among the names that will win their first international caps.

Fenerbahçe wing back Gökhan Gönül, Beşiktaş left back İsmail Köybaşı, Kayserispor’s Eren Güngör and Bayer Leverkusen’s Ömer Toprak are also on the squad.

Goalkeeper Cenk Gönen of Beşiktaş may win his first cap as well.

Praising fans in Bursa

Avcı also praised host city Bursa, home of Bursaspor. “This city’s team became the league champion two seasons ago, and you can understand the reasons behind it when you arrive in the city,” said Avcı, inviting fans in Bursa to the game.

“I want all supporters, whose fame has gone beyond Turkey’s borders, to come to the Atatürk Stadium wearing their red and white jerseys,” he said.

Turkey’s coach noted there were Spor Toto Super League players in the Slovakia squad, making it a “familiar opponent,” and starting the new era with a victory would mean a lot to him.

Avcı also said Turkish coaches needed “to be shown patience” to succeed. “Turkish coaches are not behind foreigners. In fact, we are ahead of them. What matters are time, support and patience toward us. If Turkish coaches are given these they will succeed.”