The regular season in the Spor Toto Super League may be over but football is far from over in the land as the 2011-12 Ziraat Turkish Cup quarterfinals kick off on Tuesday, with Eskişehirspor slugging it out with Medical Park Antalyaspor at FB Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium in İstanbul.
Both Eskişehirspor and Antalyaspor are in the best of moods after the Super League matches in week 34 over the weekend that marked the end of the regular season.
Eskişehirspor beat newcomer Mersin İdman Yurdu 2-0 at home on Saturday to earn a berth in the playoffs for a spot in the UEFA Europa League that will be contested among teams that finished fifth to eighth in the Super League.
Mehmet Özdilek’s Medical Park Antalyaspor, without the slightest doubt, is in seventh heaven after resisting gravity and relegation to remain in topflight Turkish football despite losing 2-0 away to Fenerbahçe on the same day. Antalyaspor, however, had a helping hand from Sivasspor, which beat Samsunspor 2-1 away. Had Samsunspor won, Medical Park Antalyaspor would have been a goner. The Turkish Cup is played on a one-leg knockout basis and therefore a victor must emerge between Eskişehirspor and Antalyaspor at Kadıköy on Tuesday. If the match is deadlocked at fulltime, then 30 minutes of extra time will be played. And if there is still no winner, then a penalty shootout will determine the first semifinalist.
The Cup is always a means whereby the small teams can play in Europe because the winner represents the country in the Europa League. Upsets abound in this competition and so it is not uncommon for the struggling teams to fell heavyweights -- and move on win the competition.
Galatasaray, Trabzonspor and Beşiktaş have already been sent packing -- meaning Fenerbahçe is the only survivor among the “Big Four.”
Eskişehirspor beat Antalyaspor 1-0 at home in week 14 on Dec. 7 and their match in week 31 on March 17 ended 0-0 during the Super League season. However, that was in the league and things are always different in the cup. Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m.