ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey plays its most important game of the 2010 World Cup qualifying round group on Wednesday when it takes on Bosnia and Herzegovina. The home team has been the surprise package of the round and is planning to maintain its second spot, but Turkey needs nothing less than a win in order to qualify for the playoffs
GOAL: Turkish players celebrate a goal against Estonia in the game at Kayseri Kadir Has Stadium. AFP photo
Turkey is on the verge of its most crucial turning point on the way to the 2010 World Cup. It takes on Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday.
The Turkish national football team meets Bosnia, which has performed above expectations in the qualifying Group 5, in a must-win game.
While Group 5 has been dominated by European champion Spain, which won all of its seven games and counts down the days to guarantee its spot in the World Cup, Turkey has found itself in a race for the second spot along with surprise package Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Spain is at 21 points, Bosnia and Herzegovina has 15 and Turkey is at 11 points with only three games left to play. In order to get to the playoff rounds via second spot, this is Turkey’s best chance to catch up with Bosnia and Herzegovina, who chases its first-ever World Cup qualification.
Coached by Miroslav Blazevic, who led Croatia to its first-ever international competition with the Euro 96, Bosnia and Herzegovina is bringing an attack-minded approach to the game. So far, Blazevic’s boys have been scoring freely: Bosnia and Herzegovina is tied with Germany at 20 goals and only second best to England, who scored 26 goals, in the highest scoring teams list of the qualification round.
Trying to stop the attacking line will be crucial for Turkey. Strikers Edin Dzeko and Zlatan Muslumovic scored a combined 11 goals for Bosnia and Herzegovina in this campaign and should be stopped if Turkey is getting anything from this match. Dzeko is currently the second top scorer in the continent’s list behind England’s Wayne Rooney. Combining technical prowess with physical strength, 1.92 meter striker will pose a real challenge for Servet Çetin, who is arguably Turkey’s most reliable central defender.
Given Turkey’s defensive woes that helped hapless Estonia score twice in another group game that ended 4-2 on Saturday, coach Fatih Terim’s boys may as well apply to the “scoring one more than the opponent” school.
Attacking gung-ho against Bosnia and Herzegovina may be deadly, but Terim may relish the prospect of winning such Russian roulette. Against strikers Dzeko and Muslumovic fed by midfielders Zvjezdan Misimovic and Zlatan Bajramovic, Turkey may use the counter attacking force. Attacking midfielder Arda Turan is in top form, as shown in his one goal and two assists against Estonia. Attacker Tuncay Şanlı, who scored a brace against Estonia, seems to be unfazed by his recent transfer move from Middlesbrough to Stoke City. Midfielder Emre Belözoğlu’s accurate passing and young striker Sercan Yıldırım’s dynamicism and composure in the goal area will be badly needed as well.
This is a game that can go either way: With two teams having star attackers and poor defensive records, it can be a crazy scoring match but both can play with prudence to produce a goalless display as well.
Much can be said about it, but there are simple facts: Bosnia and Herzegovina will keep in mind that even a draw will be enough for it, while for Turkey, any result other than a win will mean waving goodbye to hopes of playing in the World Cup in South Africa this summer.