Turkey to face most daunting test
Turkish national football team players attend a training session in Salzburg, Austria, where they played three friendly matches. Turkey then moved to Lisbon, where it will face star-studded Portugal in the fourth game of its European tour of exhibition games. AA photoCoach Abdullah Avcı will face his biggest challenge to date as Turkish national football team coach when his team plays against Portugal on June 2.
Turkey will play at the La Luz Stadium in Lisbon to face one of the strongest teams in the continent, which boasts the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Pepe and Raul Meireles.
The game will be Turkey’s fourth meeting in its European tour of friendly games.
Avcı was brought in November 2011 after the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) parted ways with Guus Hiddink, who had failed to lead the team to the European Football Championships in Poland and Ukraine.
The 48-year-old, who had previously coached the Under-17 national football team from 2004 to 2005, made his debut as the Turkish coach against Slovakia on February 29, 2012. Leaving that 2-1 defeat aside, the current European tour marks Avcı’s first experiences at the senior level of international football.
A 3-1 win over Georgia on May 24 was a good start but hardly a guarantee that Turkey would be successful in its 2014 World Cup qualifiers. The second game on May 26 was eyebrow-raising, with Turkey failing to hold on to its lead over Finland and losing 3-2. The game was called off in the dying minutes due to fans invading the pitch.
Turkey’s best result came with a 2-0 win over Bulgaria on May 29.
Despite the ups and downs, Avcı remains satisfied with the effort players have put in so far.
“I am happy with what I have seen so far,” Avcı said to the daily Milliyet. “I have seen players responded well to my game philosophy. I have seen players reflecting on the pitch what we have done in training.”
Avcı was particularly happy that the team held possession.
“Our passing and possession was very good,” Avcı added. “But on the other hand, I have to say we defended well, too. We did not give too much space to the opponents.”
However, the camp had a negative event to remember, with goalkeeper Volkan Demirel reportedly threatening daily Habertürk’s photo-journalist Vedat Danacı, forcing him to erase a photograph he took during the Turkish national football team players’ day off at the country’s training camp in Salzburg, Austria. Photographs, followed by video, soon appeared on the web, showed Demirel’s harassment of Danacı.
The final exhibition game of the tour will be against Euro 2012 co-host Ukraine on June 5 in Ingolstadt, Germany.
Turkey will meet the Netherlands, Romania, Hungary, Estonia and Andorra in a tough group in the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup, which will be hosted by Brazil.