Turkey joins ‘selfie’ trend before game against Sweden
On March 3, Terim and players posted a ‘selfie’ on the team’s Twitter account.Turkey takes on Sweden hoping to rebuild its popularity tonight in a friendly between two national teams that failed to make it to the World Cup.
The national football team, which failed to even qualify for the qualification playoffs for Brazil 2014, will host a Swedish side boasting Paris Saint-Germain superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic tonight at the 19 Mayıs Stadium in Ankara.
The build-up to the game was highlighted by a “selfie” late on March 3. The photograph, apparently shot by a phone held by coach Fatih Terim, included the team’s stars, such as Atletico Madrid ace Arda Turan, Galatasaray forwards Burak Yılmaz and Umut Bulut, Trabzonspor’s Onur Kıvrak, Fenerbahçe goalkeeper Volkan Demirel and Saint-Etienne forward Mevlüt Erdinç.
The photograph was a duplication of the instantly famous “selfie” taken at the 86th Academy Awards on March 2, including A-list Hollywood stars such as Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie and show host Ellen DeGeneres. The selfie instantly became an Internet sensation, resulting in more than 3 million retweets, a record for the microblogging website Twitter, and prompting a horde of reproductions online.
The Turkish team’s own selfie was also an apparent bid to promote its newly launched Twitter account, @MilliTakimlar. After more than 6,000 retweets, the account boosted its follower base to over 10,000.
Turkey also launched a new jersey ahead of the game, turning the event into more than a mere friendly game.
The national football team does not need to just boost its popularity but also needs to rebuild its squad in time before Euro 2016 qualification begins in September, since it will not feature at this summer’s World Cup.
For those who are in the summer’s big football showcase, tonight’s round of international friendly fixtures constitutes a last chance for many players to force their way into the reckoning ahead of June and July.
Wedged into a busy period in the club season, 99 days before the World Cup itself begins, it is the only international date before most coaches announce their squads for the finals in May.
Teenage full-back Luke Shaw has been excellent in the Premier League for Southampton, but England’s friendly against Denmark at Wembley will be his one opportunity before the summer to show England manager Roy Hodgson he is ready for international football.
Shaw was called up for the first time as Hodgson named a 30-man squad for the game, although he has insisted that he has “no eyes on the World Cup” at his age.
England is preparing for the start of its World Cup campaign against Italy in Manaus, so it will be keeping a keen eye on the Azzurri’s friendly clash with Spain in Madrid.
The game at Atletico Madrid’s Vicente Calderon stadium is a repeat of the Euro 2012 final, which La Roja won 4-0 in Kyiv, and it is also set to see Atletico’s Brazilian-born striker Diego Costa make his Spain debut.
Costa, 25, has scored 21 times in La Liga this season and Spain have had to battle with the Brazilian Confederation to get him on board.
Spain’s opening World Cup test will be against the team it beat in the 2010 final, the Netherlands, in Salvador, and the Dutch continue their preparations with a heavyweight friendly of their own, away to France.
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal, who looks set to be replaced by Guus Hiddink after the summer, will give chances to youngsters such as Davy Klaassen of Ajax for the game and there are some new faces in the France squad too, such as Real Sociedad forward Antoine Griezmann, scorer of 15 goals in La Liga this season.
World Cup hosts Brazil cross the Atlantic for a meeting with South Africa in Johannesburg, where coach Luiz Felipe Scolari expects a tough test against a side who beat Spain in November, and Germany entertain Chile in Stuttgart with coach Joachim Löw admitting to concerns about the form and fitness of his bigger names.
Chile’s pedigree cannot be doubted, and Jorge Sampaoli’s team beat England 2-0 on their last trip to Europe in November.
Elsewhere, Romania host Argentina in Bucharest, while the United States face Ukraine in a match that will be held in Cyprus due to the current political tension in Kyiv.
An additional report from AFP was used in this story