Canaries aim for 4th straight victory, Black Eagles for first
Beşiktaş and Fener, who clashed in the Super Final at Kadıköy on Sunday, will play again in week four at Fiyapı İnönü Stadium on Thursday. (PHOTOS TODAY’S ZAMAN)
Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe will slug it out in week four of the Super Final playoff at Fiyapı İnönü Stadium in İstanbul on Thursday evening, just four days after their clash in week three at Kadıköy.
Fenerbahçe, or the Yellow Canaries, is the winningest team in the ongoing Super Final, having won all three of its previous outings and bagging the maximum nine points.
The Canaries kicked off their campaign with a 2-0 home win over Trabzonspor on April 14, followed up with a 2-1 away victory over archrival Galatasaray two Sundays ago and overcame visiting Beşiktaş by the same score in week three last Sunday. And Aykut Kocaman’s men will try to make the Black Eagles, Beşiktaş’ nickname, their fourth consecutive victim on Wednesday.
The winless and pointless Black Eagles are out of championship contention, but they still have pride and prestige to play for because they represent tens of millions of devoted fans in this country. In other words, Tayfur Havutçu’s men have to start winning or face the music.
Havutçu’s contract was extended in early April for another year; nonetheless, the coach could be declared “persona non grata” by the club if the Black Eagles fail to win a single Super Final match.
With a Portuguese battalion comprising winger Ricardo Quaresma, striker Hugo Almeida, winger Simao Sabrosa, midfielder Manuel Fernandes and others, Beşiktaş probably has the best squad in the land, judging on a player-to-player basis. But the saddest thing is that the Eagles have never learned how to play as a team and that may be the simple reason why they have failed to deliver.
Fernandes, of course, stands above the rest, but since “one tree cannot make a forest,” his efforts have not been enough to drag the Eagles out of their quagmire. The bearded Fernandes is the only Beşiktaş player worth mentioning. But whether he can motivate his teammates against Fenerbahçe remains to be seen.
Beşiktaş, plagued by injury problems all season long, still has a few players in the infirmary. Injured defender Necip Uysal and second-choice keeper Cenk Gönen, who is suffering from serious back spasms, missed training sessions this week.
Coach Havutçu talked about ifs and buts after Sunday’s defeat by Fenerbahçe. “If only we had not conceded the equalizer so soon. … If we had been able to defend our lead for up to 10 minutes, then things would have been very different,” he said.
“Had I known always comes last” is a Nigerian saying. Havutçu should therefore do what is right against Fener on Wednesday in order to not lament again after the match.
The Yellow Canaries are in high spirits ahead of this match after garnering nine points in three outings. But they are depleted and again will be missing injured Brazilian captain-playmaker Alex de Souza and Senegal striker Moussa Sow, who did not play on Sunday.
Another certain absentee will be No. 1 keeper Volkan Demirel, who suffered a bad knock to his knee and needed stitches to cover the cut. Volkan has been instrumental in the Canaries winning three in a row, and his absence is not what any Fenerbahçe supporter wants at this point in time.
But coach Kocaman seemed less perturbed. “We will be playing for outright victory against Beşiktaş on Thursday. And if deemed necessary, substitute keepers Mert or Recep will be brought to replace first-choice Volkan Demirel,” he said after Sunday’s match.
Slovakia winger Miroslav Stoch is in top form and has been scoring goals for Fenerbahçe. If the Slovakian can find his form, then the Canaries stand a good chance of winning again.
Kickoff is at 8 p.m. and the referee will be Fırat Aydınus.
Week 5, May 5-6
Trabzonspor vs. Fenerbahçe
Galatasaray vs. Beşiktaş
Week 6, May 12-13
Fenerbahçe vs. Galatasaray
Beşiktaş vs. Trabzonspor