- Turkey take pleasure in greatest ever begin to World Cup qualifiers
- Sights set on return to greatest stage after 20 years
- We have a look at some key takeaways from their opening victories
The massive query in Turkish soccer this week: is their nationwide staff set to return to the world stage after a 20-yr absence? The early indicators are actually promising after the Crescent Stars kicked off their qualifying marketing campaign for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ with two wins from two to prepared the ground in a fiercely aggressive Group G.
Pitted towards three-time World Cup runners-up the Netherlands of their opening sport on the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey threw down the gauntlet with a 4-2 win over a powerful Oranje staff.
Three days later, Senol Gunes’ aspect underlined their Qatar 2022 credentials with a powerful 3-0 win away to Norway, one other of the group’s fancied sides. That victory was particularly vital as Turkey had by no means earlier than received their opening two video games in a World Cup qualifying marketing campaign.
Ahead of the staff’s third fixture at residence to Latvia tomorrow (Tuesday 30 March), hopes of a 3rd World Cup look – and first in 20 years – are understandably excessive among the many nation’s famously passionate soccer followers.
At Korea/Japan 2002, with star turns from the likes of Hasan Sas, Hakan Sukur and Ilhan Mansiz, Turkey shocked everybody by reaching the semi-finals, the place they misplaced to the eventual winners Brazil. In the tip, they took residence the bronze medal with victory within the third-place sport over co-hosts Korea Republic, memorable additionally for Sukur scoring the quickest objective in World Cup historical past after 11 seconds.
Gunes, who was additionally in command of the staff again in 2002, is now attempting to form a new era of heroes with a mixture of residence-primarily based and abroad expertise. Ahead of the Norway sport, his captain Burak Yilmaz confirmed how assured the staff have been when requested in the event that they feared Erling Haaland: “We have great defenders and so fear no one. We’ve never been afraid of anyone.”
Solidity: In their opening two video games, the Turkish rearguard had to include the offensive menace of gamers like Memphis Depay and Erling Haaland, two of the best forwards in world soccer at current. However, with English Premier League gamers Ozan Kabak of Liverpool and Caglar Soyuncu of Leicester City alongside Kaan Ayhan of US Sassuolo, the Crescent Stars have been in a position to maintain their defensive position.
Ruthlessness: With seven targets in two video games from simply eight photographs on the right track, Turkey have been ruthlessly efficient up entrance. Gunes has loads of prime worldwide gamers at his disposal, amongst them AC Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu: “Turkish players are highly skilled but of course we can still improve in terms of our play and tactics,” said the coach. “However, it says a lot that only two players – Ozan Tufan and Ugurcan Cakir – from our starting line-up play in the Turkish league.”
Star high quality: “I desperately want us to qualify for the World Cup,” captain Yilmaz stated of their quest. The skipper clearly believes in main by instance after grabbing three of his aspect’s 4 targets towards the Dutch. Then towards Norway, it was the flip of Tufan to weigh in with two strikes of his personal, reminding everybody that Turkey have quite a few gamers who can win video games with particular person brilliance.
Turkey couldn’t have wished for a greater begin on the street to Qatar 2022 and have laid the foundations for a return to soccer’s flagship occasion. If Yilmaz can proceed to encourage and lead as he has been doing, then he and staff-mates like Hakan Calhanoglu, Caglar Soyuncu and Tufan stand each likelihood of following within the footsteps of the heroes of 2002 and incomes legendary standing themselves.