Turkey marks 500th match

Turkey marks 500th match

Turkey marks 500th match

Turkey looks to restore its confidence with a good result against Denmark tonight. The Turkish national team lost to Romania and Hungary in back-to-back World Cup qualification games last month. AA photo

Turkey will play its 500th national football match with a friendly fixture against Denmark in
Istanbul tonight.

The national team hosts Denmark at Türk Telekom Arena in Istanbul to set a landmark in its 89-year history. The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) will honor its remarkable players and coaches before the kick-off.

“The 500th game of the 89-year history came from the coaching staff and players,” Coach Abdullah Avcı
said during a press conference yesterday. “We are relishing the pride.”

Avcı also took his time to thank all the people that served the star and crescent jersey.

“I thank everyone who served the national team,” he said. “To Zeki Rıza Sporel, the first goal scorer, all 643 players, Rüştü Reçber, who won 120 caps, and Fatih Terim, who coached 92 matches.”

However, the game will not be limited to a mere celebratory event. It is a chance to steer things forward for Avcı, who is yet to deliver good results in his first year as the national team coach.

The former Istanbul BB and Turkey U-20 coach was brought to the helm on Nov. 16, 2011, after the TFF parted ways with the experienced Guus Hiddink.

Avcı yet to deliver good results for Turkey

Turkey has five wins and seven defeats in 12 matches with Avcı at the helm. Setting aside a successful summer tour of friendly matches, Avcı’s winning record looks even poorer, with Turkey losing three of its four matches in Group D of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification. Last month, Turkey suffered back-to-back defeats to Romania and Hungary to retain three points, nine behind the leading Netherlands, virtually losing all hope of making it to football’s biggest competition.

“It is an important match for us,” defender Ersan Gülüm of Beşiktaş said. “It will be a good tune-up event. We are preparing well for the game and will try to do what our coach says to us. I hope we win.”

Avcı also acknowledged that the game will be important in rebuilding the confidence of the squad.

“Denmark is a well-disciplined and balanced team, who has made it to the last European championships,” he said. “After the games in the last month, the Denmark match will help us look to the future more confidently.”

“We expect a good performance and a win,” the coach said.

Turkey will wrap up 2012 with the Denmark match. Next year, the national team has the unlikely task of overtaking Hungary and Romania, who both have nine points from four matches, to win back the second spot in the group, assuming that the Netherlands continue their perfect run and remain uncatchable.

Turkey’s next competitive match will be against the lowly Andorra on March 22 next year. Four days later on March 26, the team will host Hungary.