Wednesday’s was Fener’s fifth overall win in the Turkish Cup in the 50-year history of the competition.
Thereafter the Yellow Canaries had come close several times to winning and were losing finalists on nine occasions -- in 1962-63, 1964-65, 1988-89, 1995-96, 2000-01, 2004-05, 2005-06, 2008-09 and 2009-10 -- but to no avail. “Bad luck can’t last forever,” they say. And so Fener’s nearly three decades of cup victory drought came to an abrupt end on Wednesday.
Bursaspor, for its part, had played in four Turkish Cup finals since 1962. But the Crocs have only lifted the trophy once, and that was in the 1985-86 season -- when they beat Aegean side Altay 2-0 in the final. The Green Crocs, as Bursaspor is also called, had not clinched the cup in 26 long years going into Wednesday’s final. They too were hungry and thirsty for the championship.
However, there had to be only one winner on Wednesday. The Canaries -- who surrendered the Super League championship they won last season to archrival Galatasaray at Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium on Saturday -- looked the more composed and determined side.
The Fener players had promised Chairman Aziz Yıldırım, who is being held at İstanbul’s Metris Prison, that they were going to win the very rare league and cup double and then take both trophies to Metris. Having failed to keep their promise in the Super League, the team needed to save face by winning the Turkish Cup.
And with Fenerbahçe’s Brazilian captain-playmaker Alex de Souza in tremendous form, the cup final looked more or less like a training session for the Canaries.
The writing was already on the wall after two minutes when master passer Alex sent a perfect pass to winger Caner Erkin on the left flank and the lefty made no mistake in kicking the ball past Bursaspor’s England keeper Scott Paul Carson. Alex again provided the pass for on-form midfielder Cristian Baroni to whack in a cracker of shot and double the score at the stroke of halftime (45th minute).
It was Alex again who found striker Semih Şentürk in the Bursa box in the 58th and the striker easily found the back of the net to make it 3-0. Alex himself scored in the 78th, redirecting a cross by Semih past a desperate Carson to seal the deal: Fenerbahçe 4, Bursaspor 0.
No wonder Alex was named man-of-the-match after the game and received his trophy from Turkish Football Federation (TFF) President Yıldırım Demirören.
Bursaspor coach Ertuğrul Sağlam praised his fans for applauding both winner Fener as well their team which lost.
“I congratulate Fenerbahçe, but I congratulate our fans the most,” he said. “And without getting involved in any unruly incidents they gave everyone a good lesson in humanity. I am proud of them and lucky to be associated with them. I also congratulate my players; it was nice to play in the cup final,” he noted.
The goal scorers
It is worth noting that Caner, who scored Fener’s first goal, was born on Oct. 4, 1988 -- that is five years after the Canaries had lifted the cup prior to Wednesday.
Baroni, who scored the second, was born on June 25, 1983, and so was only 10 days old when Fener won its last but one cup on June 15, 1983; while Semih, who netted the third, was born on April 29, 1983, and was barely 5 weeks old. And Alex, who scored the fourth, was born on Sept. 14, 1977 and was less than 6 years old.
Fenerbahçe had become a laughing stock whenever or wherever the Turkish Cup was mentioned. The four players who scored on Wednesday will therefore go into the record books as the men who at last saved the Canaries from mockery and ridicule.
And Fenerbahçe coach Aykut Kocaman, who played for Fenerbahçe in 1988-96 and never won a single Turkish Cup trophy, heaped praise on his players for a job well done.
“There is only one thing to say and that is that we are very happy,” he said. “A 29-year jinx has come to an end and hopefully it will be a boon to the team. I congratulate the players. Applause must always follow the team, whether it wins or loses,” he noted, alluding to the violence that erupted after the Fenerbahçe-Galatasaray match on Saturday.
Asked whether they will take the cup to incarcerated Chairman Yıldırım, Kocaman said: “We are not planning any visit at the moment. But we know he [Yıldırım] will be very happy over the first cup under his chairmanship. And it’s not only about the Turkish Cup, but it’s high time he regained his freedom,” he asserted.
The Fenerbahçe fans celebrated their cup victory across Turkey and the Ankara fans escorted the bus carrying the team all the way to the airport.
If the rumors are true, this was the last match for midfielder Emre Belözoğlu with Fenerbahçe. Emre reportedly is on his way to La Liga’s Atletico Madrid, where he will be joining former Galatasaray captain Arda Turan, in a deal amounting to 2.5 million euros.
Fenerbahçe Deputy Chairman Nihat Özdemir also announced that he was stepping down and will therefore not be taking part in the club’s congress this weekend.