In other words, the Turkish champion shall henceforth focus its attention on domestic action. Bursaspor [9-4-2] hosts basement side Kasımpaşa, popularly known as “Paşa” in football circles, in their Spor Toto Super League week 16 match this evening.
This match couldn’t have come at a better time for the demoralized Green Crocs, who were beaten 1-0 away by Beşiktaş in week 15 last weekend, a result which saw the Crocs slip further behind leader Trabzonspor in this season’s championship race. Bursaspor therefore has the chance to get back into the title race by beating Kasımpaşa today.
“We want to emerge unscathed in the match against Kasımpaşa [today],” young Bursaspor coach Ertuğrul Sağlam said. “Now that we are out of the tough [UEFA] Champions League, we only have the Super League and Turkish Cup to play for. And I can say, with all certainty, that from now on we will put in a much better performance than in the past,” he added.
But Sağlam will be missing the services of defender Ali Tandoğan, who is recovering from a fractured skull. Undisciplined striker Volkan Şen, who was sent off in the Beşiktaş match last weekend, faces automatic suspension and will therefore also be absent this evening. Sercan Yıldırım, the young forward who scored the equalizer against the Rangers last Tuesday, is nursing a slight injury but is expected to play today.
Kasımpaşa [1-5-9], the team with the worst defense in the 18-team league, having conceded 35 goals in 15 outings, is not expected to beat champion Bursaspor this evening. But it might pose a challenge to the Crocs because Paşa is also a renowned draw specialist, with five draws in 15 matches.
If the past is any guide, Paşa is capable of earning a point at Bursa this evening as it did in the 1-1 draw with Beşiktaş in week 11 at the Fİ-YAPI İnönü Stadium on Nov. 8.
That is exactly what the Crocs want to avoid this evening because their championship hopes could be badly dented if they fail to beat Paşa and garner the maximum points. Kickoff is at 8 p.m. and the referee will be Halis Özkahya.