Victorious Beşiktaş coach sets eye on higher goals
GAZİANTEPBeşiktaş coach Şenol Güneş, who earned himself a special place in Beşiktaş’s record book by becoming the only Turkish coach to clinch the domestic title with the Black Eagles in back-to-back seasons on May 28, has set higher goals for the Black Eagles.
“We are the team that plays the second-best football in the country, but the first team has not emerged yet,” Güneş said after Beşiktaş retained the Turkish Super Lig title, thrashing a relegated Gaziantepspor of the southeastern province of Gaziantep 4-0 away to secure the crown, their 15th overall.
“Beşiktaş has greater goals on its agenda,” Güneş said, with the upcoming Champions League challenge on his mind.
Dutch striker Ryan Babel scored an early opener in Gaziantep with Oğuzhan Özyakup following with another six minutes from half-time.
Anderson Talisca added a double to the tally in the second half.
“We have overcome difficulties and we did it as a team,” Talisca told reporters after the game.
Quaresma in love
An injured Ricardo Quaresma said after the game that they “played big and struggled big.”
“The fans are in love with me and I am in love with them,” he said.
Last season, the Black Eagles won their first Turkish title since 2009. But they had not retained the title since the early 1990s when they famously won three in a row in 1990, 1991 and 1992 under English manager Gordon Milne, who remains a legend in the country.
With the title, Beşiktaş also claimed Turkey’s sole automatic Champions League spot and will hope for a drastic improvement on its group-stage exit last time round.
The draw for the group stage will take place in Monaco on Aug. 24, with the first matches to be played on Sept. 12-13.
Güneş, a former Turkish international goalkeeper who guided Turkey to third place in the 2002 World Cup as a coach, has turned Beşiktaş into by far Turkey’s most consistent side. But it was dealt a heavy blow by the departure of last season’s top scorer Mario Gomez, the German who did not want to stay in Turkey, and Argentine midfielder Jose Sosa who flew to AC Milan. This season’s success has been built around a strong team performance rather than a superstar like Gomez as the team saw off the challenge from upstart Istanbul rival Medipol Başakşehir.
Güneş managed to replace Gomez with Cenk Tosun, who has scored 18 league goals, while Cameroon’s Vincent Aboubakar shouldered a heavy weight in European competitions.
Başakşehir, which is second and four points back before the last game week of the season, will go into the third round of the Champions League qualifying rounds, where it will first meet one of Dynamo Kyiv, Ajax, Club Brugge, Viktoria Plzen or CSKA Moscow.
Founded in 1990 as the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s club, Başakşehir under coach Abdullah Avcı finished fourth in the league in the past two seasons.
Beşiktaş will add a third star to their logo, having reached 15 league titles. A star is awarded for every five titles.
The Istanbul side has this season enjoyed playing in the brand new Vodafone Arena by the Bosphorus, opened in 2016.
It was struck by horror on Dec. 10, 2016, when 44 people, mainly members of the security forces, were killed in a bomb attack after a match outside the stadium claimed by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The jubilation of the Beşiktaş fans was a world away from the mood of third-placed Fenerbahçe and fourth-placed Galatasaray, the other two big Istanbul clubs.