Turkey coach Fatih Terim praises his men after draw with Croatia
Turkish national team coach Fatih Terim sang the praises of his relatively young squad as the country launched its 2018 World Cup qualification campaign with a lucky 1-1 draw in Croatia on Sept. 5.
“We played against a team full of star players. Most of our players are young and inexperienced but they are ambitious. I am very happy with our level of play and the point we earned,” he said.
The Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb was empty as Croatia was serving a ban on fans due to its supporters’ bad behavior in the European Championship qualifying campaign, the home side hit the crossbar three times in the first half before Ivan Rakitic fired them ahead with a 44th minute penalty after captain Luka Modric was fouled inside the area.
But Croatia’s joy was short lived as playmaker Hakan Çalhanoğlu drew Turkey level barely a minute later with a free kick from 25 meters, deflected by Ivan Perisic past stranded goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic.
Croatia pressed forward relentlessly after the break but the Turks, who famously knocked Croatia out on penalties in the Euro 2008 quarterfinals, held on thanks to resolute defending and saves by keeper Volkan Babacan.
Coach Terim made significant changes to the Turkish squad for the country’s World Cup campaign after being knocked out in the group stages of last June’s Euro 2016. His decision to drop many regulars – including Barcelona star Arda Turan, Galatasaray midfielder Selçuk İnan and striker Burak Yılmaz – has been met with criticism.
The experienced coach, however, stood by his decision.
“I’m happy with my players, we can easily switch systems now, my players have this ability,” said Terim.
“There some young players outside the squad, we will include them too. Every match will help these young boys get better, more mature and gain experience. The players whose legs shook tonight will be much better in the coming games. In the meantime, we will find new players,” he added.
Also in Group I on Sept. 5, Kosovo’s Valon Berisha, given permission to play only a few hours before kickoff, scored for his country in its first-ever competitive international as it came from behind to draw 1-1 away to Finland.
Berisha put away a penalty on the hour after a foul by Thomas Lam on Bernard Berisha to spark delirious celebrations among his teammates and officials.
Kosovo was accepted into FIFA in May, and this was a remarkable result given that world football’s governing body only gave its approval for a host of players to represent the Balkan outfit earlier on Sept. 5.
Among those given the green light at the last minute were goalkeeper and captain Samir Ujkani, previously capped by Albania, Albert Bunjaku, who featured for Switzerland at the 2010 World Cup, and goalscorer Berisha, who was playing for Norway as recently as June.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. About 100 countries recognize it as a state now, but major countries like 2018 World Cup host Russia do not.
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Football Match Tickets in Istanbul Turkey
Football Match Tickets in Istanbul Turkey
Galatasaray Besiktas Fenerbahce Kasımpasa Istanbul Basaksehirspor
Football, hugely popular in Turkey, was brought there in the second half of the 19th century when English tobacco and cotton traders visited the main harbour towns of the Ottoman Empire.
In the beginning they played football with each other, and later taught the game to their Turkish neighbours.The first football match on Turkish grounds was played in Salonika in 1875. After that, football was played in Istanbul and İzmir. But during this time, football was only played between English and Greek people. This was also the case in the first Turkish league, named the Istanbul Football League.But some young Turkish men, who loved this game at once, began to play football in open fields without observing any rules.
These young players formed the first Turkish team, playing their first match on 26 October, 1901, against a Greek team. Then the club Beşiktas, founded in 1903, became the first Turkish club to enter the Istanbul League.
When the clubs Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray also entered this league, the real period of Turkish football began.
A very strong love for football widened to the whole nation. After this period football in Turkey started to develop very fast and treating football like a “national matter” continued until now.
Turkey has a big potential in footbal. There are 4,956 football clubs organized in Turkey, and a registered 4,775 professional and 136,823 amateur players with 233 women. 796 male and 20 female football referees are licensed by the TFF.
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