14 October 2004
The Coach of the Danish National Football Team, Morten Olsen, said that neither the match Turkey played last week against Kazakhstan, nor the match the Danes played against Albania, would equal the level of football that will be played between the two teams tomorrow in Copenhagen.
Olsen said: "It is natural for Turkey to beat the weakest team in the group, Albania. If Turkey had lost points against Kazakhstan, the match in Copenhagen wouldn't have much meaning".
The Star players for the Vikings unanimously believe that this match will be the toughest of the group.
Though Olsen was happy with the three points his team gained from the Albania re-match, he was not satisfied with its performance.
"My colleague [Ersun] Yanal had issued a statement after the [Kazakhstan] match saying, 'It will be a different match in Copenhagen,' I agree with him totally. Turks are fast, energetic on the ball and very dangerous. We will be careful about this."
To conclude, he said that the match will be a good one because its between the group's two strongest rivals, the Vikings versus the Crescent and the Star . (Zaman, 10.12.2004)
Ankara - Turkish Daily News
Ahead of Turkey's meeting with Kazakhstan last Saturday, we said that it was the most critical test coach Ersun Yanal had faced since he took over the national team.
The defense-minded Kazakhs were despatched 4-0 but now comes an even more crucial World Cup qualifying test. This evening Turkey is in Copenhagen to face Denmark. As a result of the big win against Kazakhstan it heads Group 2 on goal difference with 5 points but Denmark is only a point behind and has a game in hand.
"This is a very important match for both teams," said Yanal on arrival in Denmark. " In terms of competitiveness, entertainment and soccer quality it is going to be very different from the Kazakhstan game." Yanal's opposite number Morten Olsen expects Turkey to play a defensive game tonight but he warned, "They have a lot of good technical and quick players, so they will change from defense to offense very quickly. That's what we have to stop."
In trying to stop Turkey's front line, Olsen is hampered by injuries. Already without Aston Villa central defender Martin Laursen, he has now lost number one goalkeeper Thomas Sorenson as well.
Peter Skov-Jensen of FC Midtjylland did a competent job as deputy in the 2-0 road victory against Albania on Saturday but if Turkey is firing on all cylinders he could face a more serious test this time around.
Yanal will not adopt a totally defensive approach. That is simply not his style. He will certainly not pull 10 men back behind the ball and pray as Olsen accused Ukraine of doing when it snatched a 1-1 draw in Copenhagen last month.
But his team is certain to face more pressure at the back than it did against Kazakhstan and the aim will be to use its speedy players to set up fast break chances.
Clean bill of health
Yanal's injury problems have cleared up. He said on Monday that all his players are fit and that Inter Milan's Emre Belozoglu, who had only just recovered from a knock and was not risked against Kazakhstan, will definitely be a starter. That will be a plus for a midfield which looked lethargic during the first half on Saturday.
Emre is not only an excellent ball distributor, he is also a ball winner and his left foot is very dangerous with free kicks around the area. The question is how the coach will reorganize the team both to accommodate him and adjust to a very different tactical situation.
Emre's replacement was Trabzonspor's Huseyin Cimsir but Yanal might opt to retain Huseyin to play a holding role just in front of the back line. Fenerbahce defender Ibrahim Toraman is fit again and another option, one which many media pundits are urging Yanal to adopt, is to revert to a 4-man defense with Ibrahim on the right, Tolga Seyhan and Servet Cetin in the middle and Deniz Baris on the left.
If that formation is used, Huseyin will probably drop out because Umit Ozat is also capable of doing the 'forward sweeper' job.
Besiktas midfielder Okan Buruk is available again after suspension and although Yanal has as yet said nothing about this, there are strong rumors that he will restore him.
In that case, he would most probably leave out Galatasaray forward Necati Ates, use Okan wide on the right and move Nihat Kahveci infield to play closer to Fatih Tekke. The alternative would be to leave Nihat on the wing, play Okan inside and axe Serkan Balci who had a disappointing game against Kazakhstan.
Sorenson and Laursen are not the only Danish casualties. Olsen will also be without defender Kasper Bogelund (PSV Eindhoven), midfield man Claus Jensen (Fulham) and striker Peter Madsen (Vfl Bochum).
He still has a lot of very dangerous players to call on including the men who scored the goals in Tirana, Martin Jorgensen and the ever-reliable Jon Dahl Tomasson. In addition to those two, Turkey will need to subdue the combative (at times overly combative) Thomas Gravesen in midfield.
Olsen is reportedly planning to play a wide game meaning that Turkey would also face a severe test down the flanks. That would be a sensible tactic. The form and confidence of goalkeeper Rustu Recber are suspect and Yanal's entire defense has shown itself to be vulnerable against crosses from the wings in the past.
"Denmark is a world class team," was another of Yanal's comments. "So is Turkey. If both teams show their true form at the same time it's going to be a high quality and very entertaining game." We hope so. As far as getting a result goes, though, history is against Turkey.
It has beaten Denmark only once in 4 attempts. That victory came in 1992 shortly before the Danes astonished the soccer world by winning the European Championship. If there is to be a repeat tonight the defense has to hold firm and the midfield has to gain at least an equal share of possession.
Defeat for Turkey would be damaging but not fatal. A point would be very useful and all three would put it in the driving seat in the group, at least for the moment.