Alex-less Fener still too strong for Gaziantepspor
Fener players Dirk Kuyt and Hasan Ali Kaldırım celebrate a goal against Gaziantepspor in Saturday's match in İstanbul. (Photo: Today's Zaman, Mahmut Burak Bürkük)
Fenerbahçe, or the Yellow Canaries, defeated southeastern side Gaziantepspor 3-0 in week two of the Sports Toto Super League on Saturday night for its first domestic league of the season and also for its first win in four official matches.
The Canaries were beaten by Galatasaray in the Super Cup, drew 1-1 with newcomer “away” in İzmir in the league opener and were defeated 2-1 at Spartak Moscow in the UEFA Champions League playoffs.
But Saturday's victory was eclipsed by the crisis between Brazilian captain and playmaker Alex de Souza and young coach Aykut Kocaman, which saw the Brazilian excluded completely from the Saturday roster. For the record: A fit Alex has always been included in the Fener starting XI since he joined the İstanbul club in 2004. Therefore without the slightest doubt there is something wrong somewhere.
The match was played “behind closed doors,” meaning adult men were banned, while women and children were allowed in for free. And even the female Fener spectators took sides, asking, “Say Aykut Kocaman, where is Alex?”
And this prompted Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım to grab the stadium microphone during the match -- maybe something unprecedented in football history -- and say the following: “You are mistaken,” he said to the chanting fans. “Respect and support the players on the pitch. No one is greater than Fenerbahçe,” he asserted.
Yıldırım further said after the match: “I can give my life for Fenerbahçe. No one is above Fenerbahçe, not even Aziz Yıldırım. Players go, Aziz Yıldırım will, everyone will go, but Fenerbahçe will remain,” he noted. He later said he has invited Alex for talks at 2 p.m. on Monday.
Mehmet Topal's controversial goal -- TV replays clearly showed that Mehmet blocked the ball with his hands before scoring -- gave the Canaries the lead in the 32nd minute.
Senegal striker Moussa Sow doubled the score for the Canaries in the 78th and Dutch goal-king Dirk Kuyt sealed the deal in the 84th. It is worthy to note that this was Kuyt's sixth goal in six official matches for Fenerbahçe.
Fenerbahçe won by a wide 3-0 margin on Saturday, but the score did not reflect the play. The reason Fener keeper Mert Günök was named “man of the match” was because he made at least five daring saves.
Fener hosts Spartak Moscow in the second leg of their Champions League playoffs on Wednesday and the Canaries will definitely need an improved performance against the Russian side.
Elsewhere in the Super League
There was a goal feast, but no winner nor vanquished, in the match between Sivasspor and visiting Mersin İdman Yurdu that ended 3-3 -- each team scoring three goals apiece.
Sivasspor's goals were scored by French-born Moroccan midfielder Aatif Chahechouhe in the ninth minute and by Kaduna-born Nigeria striker Michael Eneramo in the 28th and 34th.
Mersin İdman Yurdu's goals came from Galatasaray's Argentine reject Juan Emmanuel Culio in the 17th, Serbia defender Milan Stepanov in the 36th and Tunisia forward Wissem Ben Yahia in the 70th.
Black Sea side Orduspor, coached by renowned 56-year-old Argentine Hector Raul Cuper, got its first victory of the season with a resounding “home” victory over 10-man Eskişehirspor in a match that was played at İstanbul's Atatürk Olympic Stadium.
Eskişehirspor, aka EsEs, was reduced to 10 men in the 21st after veteran midfielder Hürriyet Gücer was sent off for bringing Orduspor's Nizamettin Çalışkan down in the box. Referee Hüseyin Göçer did not hesitate in pointing to the penalty box and in showing Hürriyet red. Former Galatasaray striker Hasan Kabze made it 2-0 for Orduspor in the 45th and there were no other goals in the match.
For Eskişehirspor coach Ersun Yanal, whose team was eliminated by Olympique Marseille 4-1 on aggregate from the Europa League and beaten 1-0 at home by Akhisar Belediye in the Super League, Saturday's defeat is a huge sign of bad things to come.
Akhisar Belediye and 10-man Gençlerbirliği shared the spoils after a 0-0 draw at the capital's 19 Mayıs Stadium.
On Friday, Kasımpaşa overcame Karabükspor 2-1.