Turkey ends Euro warm-up campaign on winning note

(Photo: Cihan)

June 06, 2012, Wednesday/ 10:30:00

The Turkish national football team outplayed, outclassed and outscored Euro 2012 co-host Ukraine 2-0 in its last European warm-up match at Audi Sportpark in the German town of Ingolstadt on Tuesday night.

The fact that Avcı has the guts to give youngsters like 22-year-old SpVgg Greuther Fürth midfielder Sercan Sararer Osuna and 23-year-old Fenerbahçe keeper Mert Günok, among others, the opportunity to play in his starting XI, means the 48-year-old Turkey coach is serious about forming a team for the future

With this result Abdullah Avcı's men have played five, won four and lost one -- and also scored at least two goals in all the games they have played. They beat Georgia 2-0 at Red Bull Arena in Salzburg on May 24, were defeated 3-2 by Finland at the same venue two days later, rebounded to subdue Bulgaria 2-0 on May 29, beat Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal 3-1 on Saturday in Lisbon and ended their campaign with a well-deserved victory over Ukraine on Tuesday.

The national team will therefore be returning happy and contented but raring to go again in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers that kick off with the Netherlands-Turkey game in Amsterdam on Sept. 7.

Fenerbahçe winger Caner Erkin broke the deadlock with Ukraine in the 30th minute, tapping the ball in from close range to give the Turks a 1-0 lead. However, lanky Beşiktaş forward Mustafa Pektemek deserves the most praise for single-handedly outwitting the entire Ukrainian defense before sending a perfect pass to Caner, who wasted no time finding the back of the net.

Shevchenko can't save Ukraine

In a desperate bid to score and restore parity, Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin brought in veteran Dinamo Kiev's USSR-born Andriy Shevchenko in the 46th minute, but it was to no avail.

Master dribbler Pektemek got on the scoreboard in the 70th to double the score for Turkey, redirecting a cross by Hertha Berlin winger Tunay Tolon into the net, following a lightning counterattack initiated by 23-year-old Real Madrid midfielder Nuri Şahin.

Other highlights in the second half included a free kick taken by Turkey's Real Madrid midfielder Hamit Altıntop hitting the post, and Shevchenko's shot likewise rebounding off the woodwork towards the end of the match.

The Turks, Euro 2008 semifinalists, will be conspicuously absent from Euro 2012. But the way the current national team humiliated Portugal and Ukraine in its last two matches suggests Turkey could have gone the distance if this team -- rather than the one under Dutchman Guus Hiddink -- had made the European Championship finals in Poland and Ukraine.

The fact that Avcı has the guts to give youngsters like 22-year-old SpVgg Greuther Fürth midfielder Sercan Sararer Osuna and 23-year-old Fenerbahçe keeper Mert Günok, among others, the opportunity to play in his starting XI, means the 48-year-old Turkey coach is serious about forming a team for the future.

“Better days are coming,” Avcı said after the match. “This team will achieve great things. We still have flaws. But with hard work we shall overcome these flaws. We are trying to invest in the [national] team of tomorrow,” he added.

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