Spor Toto Super League standings

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Giovani dos Santos joins Galatasaray on loan.

It has now been reported by Fanatik and Sky Sports in England that Mexican international player Giovani dos Santos will now head to Galatasaray on a loan. The player had been playing for Tottenham Hotspur. Dos Santos played for Barcelona when current Galatasaray head coach Frank Rijkaard was at the helm there. He had failed to establish himself at Spurs, and spent some time on loan at Ipswich Town the previous season. With the move, dos Santos reunites with Rijkaard and will certainly see playing time in Istanbul. The move can be made permanent during the summer transfer window. With the move, Galatasaray will have to offload one of its foreign players. Turkish football regulations stipulate that only eight foreign players can be registered with one club; and up to six foreigners can play on the pitch for a club.

With Harry Kewell now out for 2-3 months, and with Milan Baros thought to be out until mid-March, this seems like a good move for Galatasaray. Rijkaard had given dos Santos his chance at first-team football when Rijkaard coached Barcelona. Now it may be that this young player can be able to fulfill his potential under his old coach. The Turkcell Super League tends to favor offensive football rather than defensive. Dos Santos, who is a forward, should be able to find his rhythm here. Who Galatasaray releases due to the foreign player rule will be the question. Although perhaps with the quality of players now coming into Galatasaray, it wouldn't be surprising to see Shabani Nonda go. Considering he had missed a few good opportunities in the Gaziantepspor match, including a penalty kick, Nonda's days could be numbered. Galatasaray had to let Tobias Linderoth go because of the new signings (Lucas Neill and Jo); then again, he had been considered a liability. The main concern with dos Santos will be diving. Mexican players have gained a reputation for diving on the pitch, especially with fans of the United States national soccer team. The Turkish TV pundits might have a field day if he dives at times on the pitch, calling the legitimacy of the on-pitch action into question. Even so, this is a good move for Galatasaray considering dos Santos' age (20 years old) and potential to become a star.

Turkcell Super League – week 18 – Sunday action

The opening weekend of the second half of the season for the Turkcell Super League came to a close Sunday. With Fenerbahçe consolidating their lead at the top, Galatasaray needed to win to keep pace with their cross-town Istanbul rivals. Kayserispor looked to keep within striking distance of the top spot that they held for two weeks in the first half of the season. Roger Lemerre made his debut as Ankaragücü head coach, along with former Turkish national team, Fenerbahçe, and Gençlerbirliği player Umit Ozat as his assistant. Trabzonspor, although highly unlikely to break their championship drought this season, looked to at least get into contention for a Europa League spot as they took on Sivasspor.

Roger Lemerre was hired by Ankaragücü in the winter break to improve the fortunes of the capital-based club. Their opponents this week, Diyarbakirspor, were only a point ahead of them in the standings. Ankaragücü were the first to attack in the 7th minute, with Darius Vassel's attempt on goal curling over the bar and out of bounds. Diyarbakirspor was on the attack in the 16th minute, as Thierry Tazemeta passed to Erhan Senturk on the right flank. Senturk ran into the box and shot the ball right into Ankaragücü's goalkeeper, Serkan Kirintili. Kirintili's block would end that attack. In the 19th minute, Ankaragücü had another chance as Aydin Karabulut's free kick into the box was headed by Koray Çölgecen towards goal. But the ball was saved and ended up out for a corner. Very little action occurred in the first half and the halftime score ended up 0-0. The second half started with Diyarbakirspor on the offensive. In the 47th minute, Bruce Djite's attempt on goal barely missed the left post and went out. In the 66th minute, Diyarbakirspor's Razundara Tjikuzu (recently transferred from Trabzonspor) shot the ball low from the top of the penalty arc. Kirintili came up with two saves, one from Tjikuzu's shot, and Djite's attempt from the rebound. Tjikuzu would have another attempt on goal in the 71st minute for Diyarbakirspor. His curling shot from the left flank went off the post, initially confusing Kirintili, and the resulting rebound was cleared out for a throw-in. Ankaragücü had an attempt on goal in the 80th minute, with Adem Koçak's shot going wide left of the goal. The match would end as a 0-0 draw.

Kayserispor looked like they were in contention for the title going into the winter break. The team surprised many by leading the Super League for two weeks late in the first half of the season. Now in fourth place, Kayserispor looked to get off to a good start to the second half against Gençlerbirliği. In the 21st minute, Franco Cangele's corner from the right ended up being headed by Aydin Toscali barely off target. In the 29th minute, Gençlerbirliği started a counterattack from a Kayserispor corner. Burhan Eşer received a pass and advanced the ball deep into Kayserispor's half. His through ball pass was intended for Hurşit Meriç. But Kayserispor defender Durmuş Bayram got to the ball first and cleared the danger. The clearance went to Alioum Saidou, who passed to Mehmet Eren. Eren then attacked from the right flank, advancing the ball near the goal line. His cross found the head of Ariza Makukula, but the attempt on goal was saved by Gençlerbirliği goalkeeper Serdar Kulbilge as Kulbilge deflected the ball over the crossbar. The resulting corner, coming in the 31st minute, was cleared by the Gençlerbirliği defense. But the ball ended up at the feet of Gökhan Emreciksin, and the Kayserispor midfielder's long range shot went wide of the goal. Burhan Eşer had another opportunity for Gençlerbirliği in the 42nd minute, but his curling shot on goal was saved by Kayserispor goalkeeper Gökhan Değirmenci. The first half ended without any goals. The second half would see goals, however. In the 69th minute, Kayserispor's Serdar Kesimal mistakenly passed the ball to Gençlerbirliği player Labinot Harbuzi. Harbuzi then passed a through ball to Burhan Eşer. Eşer kept his shot low and scored to put Gençlerbirliği up 1-0. Gençlerbirliği almost had their second goal by Eşer in the 78th minute. Kahe's through ball found Eşer, but the resulting ball hit the post and was cleared by the Kayserispor defense. In the 80th minute, Kayserispor had another opportunity on goal, as Franco Cangele's free kick just outside the penalty box was deflected off the wall. The ball ended up at the feet of Makukula, but was saved by Kulbilge. Gençlerbirliği looked like they were going to hang on for the win. But in the second minute of stoppage time, Cangele's cross from the right flank found the head of Makukula. The Super League-leading goal scorer headed the ball into the back of the net to tie the match, and make the final score 1-1.

It can be said that both Trabzonspor and Sivasspor have had disappointing seasons so far. Both clubs have had to change coaches. Both looked to contend for the league title this year. While Trabzonspor look to at least climb into a Europa League spot, Sivasspor have the task to climb out of the relegation zone. It was a far cry from when Sivasspor looked to be the first team to win the league title outside of the "Big Four" the past two seasons. Both teams wanted to get the second half of the season off to a high note. Trabzonspor almost scored first in the 11th minute. Ömer Aysan Barış' cross went past Umut Bulut and ended up at the feet of Engin Baytar. With an open net in front of him, Baytar's shot went off the crossbar and was cleared. Trabzonspor would strike first in the 21st minute. Engin Baytar's pass into the area found Alanzinho. Alanzinho found Umut Bulut, and Bulut opened the scoring putting Trabzonspor up 1-0. In the 29th minute, Sivasspor midfielder Ferhat Bikmaz tripped Baytar in the box, resulting in a penalty for Trabzonspor. Gustavo Colman proceeded to double Trabzonspor's lead to 2-0. The 32nd minute saw Alanzinho advanced the ball from the right flank, and passed a through ball to Baytar. The resulting pass to Bulut ended up in the hands of Sivasspor goalkeeper Akin Vardar. Sivasspor would not be down and out yet. In the 36th minute, Abdurrahman Dereli's pass from the center circle found Erman Kılıç just outside the box. Kılıç advanced the ball to near the goal line and intended to make a crossing pass. Instead, the ball deflected off Selçuk Inan and into the net to put Sivasspor on the board. The halftime score ended up with Trabzonspor having the 2-1 advantage. Trabzonspor had plenty of opportunities in the second half to regain their two goal lead. In the 55th minute, Baytar's pass into the box found Serkan Balci, but his shot went wide of goal. The 76th minute saw Bulut's cross from the right flank headed out over the bar by Inan. In the 78th minute, Inan's free kick went into the box and found the head of Giray Kaçar. But his header went off the post, and was cleared by the Sivasspor defense. One minute later, Ömer Aysan Barış provided a long ball that was headed towards the penalty box by Inan. Umut Bulut provided the finish to put Trabzonspor up 3-1. The 89th minute saw Inan take a free kick that found the head of Kaçar. The header went for naught. Trabzonspor picked up the three points with three goals in a 3-1 victory.

Galatasaray decided to get some help for their scoring and the defense. With Milan Baros out until mid-March because of the injury suffered during the Fenerbahçe derby, Galatasaray signed Jo from Manchester City. Jo was previously on loan to Everton and looks like a good pickup. Lucas Neill, previously under contract to Everton, was also signed as Galatasaray looked to improve the defense. With an injury-prone Gökhan Zan, Neill should be a good compliment to Servet Cetin as a central defender. Neill got the immediate start while Jo was on the bench as Galatasaray took on Gaziantepspor. A snowstorm hit Istanbul over the weekend, so the pitch at the Ali Sami Yen stadium had to be cleared. The snow continued to fall at kickoff and throughout the match. Much of the first half was dominated by Galatasaray. In the 3rd minute, Caner Erkin's cross was headed out by Shabani Nonda. In the 31st minute, Elano's shot from outside the penalty area barely missed the target. Galatasaray got an advanatage when Gaziantepspor's Ahmet Ari got sent off in the 33rd minute for his second yellow card for dissent. Galatasaray had their best chance in the first half in the 43rd minute. Arda Turan moved past two defenders and his shot on goal was saved. The rebound came to Nonda, but Nonda attempt saw the ball trickle out. The first half ended with a 0-0 score. In the 59th minute, Caner Erkin was tripped in the box, leading to a penalty kick for Galatasaray. On the ensuing kick, Nonda's attempt was saved by Gaziantepspor goalkeeper Mahmut Bezgin. Elano would be replaced at the 63rd minute by Jo, giving Jo his first minutes in a Galatasaray uniform. Galatasaray would find the back of the net in the 75th minute. Arda Turan's free kick was headed home by Mustafa Sarp. Jo had his first attempt to score in a Galatasaray uniform in the 80th minute, but he headed Uğur Uçar's cross out for a goal kick. Galatasaray went on to win the match 1-0, remaining a point behind league leaders Fenerbahçe.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Turkcell Super League – Week 18 – Friday and Saturday action

After nearly a month off because of a winter break, the Turkcell Super League got back into action with a set of matches on Friday and Saturday. The top four in the league are only separated by a point each, so now every game is crucial in the march toward the league title. The second half of the season will feature new faces, such as Gokhan Unal now being transferred to Fenerbahçe from Trabzonspor, and Lucas Neill and Jo who have been transferred to Galatasaray from Everton and Manchester City respectively (Jo is on a six month loan). With the amount of transfers in and out of the league, the league will certainly have a somewhat different look player-wise. However, the league will certainly look to be competitive over the next seventeen weeks as the drive for the title approaches its end. Week 18 got started with Fenerbahçe facing a bottom of the table Denizlispor on Friday. Three matches were set to be featured on Saturday. However, due to a snowstorm in Istanbul, only the Eskişehirspor-Manisaspor match was played. The Beşiktaş-Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyespor and Kasımpaşa-Bursaspor matches were postponed.

The leaders at the halfway point, Fenerbahçe, looked to continue their lead at the top of the table. With the rain and sleet falling on the Sukru Saracoglu stadium during the game, the field was muddy. They had to do without their captain and their normal right back, as both Alex de Souza and Gokhan Gonul of Fenerbahçe would miss the match due to yellow card accumulation. Denizlispor, 17th in the standings coming into the match, would start a seemingly monumental climb back out of the relegation zone. Much of the first half was dominated by Fenerbahçe as they had most of the possession of the ball. Denizlispor goalkeeper Özden Öngün kept his team in the match with crucial saves. One example was in the 43rd minute, when Andre dos Santos curled a free kick into the penalty area. Fabio Bilica's header was on target, but Öngün had capable hands to stop the opportunity. The second half featured more Fenerbahçe attacking. A few minutes into the second half, Emre Belozoglu had a shot blocked by a Denizlispor defender. The ball ended up at the feet of Semih Senturk, but Senturk's shot went wide right. In the 59th minute, Semih Senturk made a pass to Guiza, but his hard shot went off the crossbar and was cleared by Denizlispor. The goal-scoring would begin late in this match. In the 77th minute, Andre dos Santos curled a free kick into the Denizlispor goal to put the home team up 1-0. Denizlispor would answer back five minutes later in the 82nd minute. Souleymane Youla, recently transferred to Denizlispor from Eskişehirspor, hit home a shot from a free kick from Branimir Bajic. Youla, who came into the match as a substitute in the 80th minute, took advantage of a slip-up from Fenerbahçe defender Fabio Bilica, and powered his shot into the back of the net. Fenerbahçe would take the lead for good in the 86th minute, as Özer Hurmaci scored his first goal in a Fenerbahçe uniform. The lead-up to the goal saw the ball inching near the goal line, but Gokhan Unal saved the ball from crossing the line. Unal would pass to Guiza, and Guiza's pass found Hurmaci for the goal. Fenerbahçe put the game out of reach in the 90th minute, as Andre dos Santos' pass found Unal in the box. Unal's shot was saved by Özden Öngün, but Guiza hit home the rebound to make the final score 3-1. This game wasn't without some casualties though. Fenerbahçe will go into their match against Sivasspor next week without some key players, as Emre Belozoglu, Diego Lugano, Cristian Baroni, and Andre dos Santos will all be unavailable next week due to yellow card accumulation.

Eskişehirspor hosted Manisaspor in the only matchup on Saturday. Manisaspor came out strong at the start of the match. In the fifth minute, Mehmet Güven shot the ball just barely wide of the net. In the 12th minute, Güven's through ball pass into the penalty box found Promise Issac. The end result of this was Issac shooting the ball wide left of the goal. The 14th minute saw Gabriel Limeira's shot go off the post. Eskişehirspor would get one opportunity in the 22nd minute. After receiving a pass from Erkan Zengin, Koray Arslan ran about 30 meters from the right wing into the penalty area. His shot, however, ended up missing the goal by the slightest of margins. In the 30th minute, Manisaspor was on the attack again, as Yaser Yildiz crossed the ball from the left flank finding Joshua Simpson. But the Canadian's shot would end up in the hands of Eskişehirspor goalkeeper Vanja Ivesa. The score at the halftime break was 0-0. In the 50th minute, Eskişehirspor's Alper Potuk had his attempt on goal saved by Manisaspor goalkeeper Ilker Avcibay. The 58th minute saw Manisaspor on the attack, with Şener Aşkaroğlu making a pass to Yaser Yildiz, but Yildiz's shot was saved by Ivesa for a corner. In the 69th minute, a pass by Caner Celep went through the Manisaspor defense, and ended up with Adem Sari. Sari's shot would hit the post, but Sari headed in the rebound to put Eskişehirspor on the board, 1-0. One last chance for Manisaspor came in the 88th minute, when Aşkaroğlu cross the ball into the penalty area from the right flank. Mehmet Nas took the shot, but Ivesa came up with a big save to keep Eskişehirspor in the lead. Eskişehirspor held on to win 1-0.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Digiturk retains Turkcell Super League broadcasting rights.

Digiturk, the satellite service hosting LigTV, has renewed their contract to broadcast the Turkcell Super League for the next four seasons, from the 2010 to 2014. Digiturk will play $321 million each season for the broadcast rights. Compare that with the current deal that Digiturk has, which is $140 million dollars per year, starting from 2005. They gain the right to broadcast at least four matches per week, and can broadcast through terrestrial transmitters, cable, satellite, internet, and 3G networks. TRT has won the broadcast rights to the Bank Asya 1st division. The matches can be broadcast over the same avenues as the Digiturk deal, but they must broadcast at least three matches per week. Both broadcasters reserve the right to rename the league through sponsorship.

With Digiturk winning the right to the Super League again, it looks certain that only the big four of Turkish soccer will be broadcast. One of my complaints about Digiturk (and LigTV) is that they almost never broadcast Anatolian teams from outside the big four (Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray, Beşiktaş, Trabzonspor). While I realize that these teams don't have the prestige of the big four clubs, it would be helpful to Turks and non-Turks who follow Turkish football to see how these teams play. Plus, the TV exposure to the Anatolian clubs would be very beneficial to them. LigTV has always had this big four complex where they care about the big four and Anatolian clubs don't exist, except for a few highlights. The only time Anatolian clubs will get exposure is if they are playing the big four, or if they are making a run to the league title. A good example of the latter would be Sivasspor last season, and Bursaspor and Kayserispor this season. I guarantee nobody would be caring about Kayserispor getting broadcast on LigTV if they weren't leading the Super League table for two weeks. So with Super League matches staying on LigTV for the foreseeable future don't count on Anatolian clubs to get some TV time. That is unless there is a serious contender for the league title.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lucas Neill signs for Galatasaray

Galatasaray has transferred defender Lucas Neill of Everton for a reported 800,000 British pounds, according to the Telegraph newspaper. After the transfer, Galatasaray signed Neill to a 1.5 year contract. He has previously played for Everton, West Ham United, and Blackburn Rovers in the English Premier League. Generally a right back, he has been playing center back in recent games for Everton. He joins fellow Australian Harry Kewell on the team. Most likely, he will feature at center back for Galatasaray the rest of the season, due to Sabri Sarioglu being the first choice right back. Galatasaray is also rumored to be interested in Roman Pavyluchenko of Tottenham Hotspur, but may not be able to meet the transfer price to sign him. Galatasaray is also rumored to be after Mido, the Egyptian forward currently playing on loan for Middlesbrough.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Kayserispor player suspended over allegations of match-fixing.

A match fixing scandal reported a few days ago in Turkish newspapers rocked Turkish soccer and European soccer in general.  There has been some action taken in order to alleviate the problem.  Kayserispor, currently in fourth place in the Turkcell Super League,  has suspended midfielder Bilal Aziz Özer from the team due to allegations that he and two other players, whom have not been named, attempted to manipulate a match this season against Eskişehirspor.  The said match took place on October 4th of last year.

The Milliyet newspaper implicated Özer as one of the players listed in the report by the Bochum Public Prosecutors office.  The report, which contains tapped phone conversations between Özer and one of the members of the match-fixers, disclosed that Özer and two other players would conspire to lose the match against Eskişehirspor.  Kayserispor would win the match 1-0, and Özer and the two other teammates were threatened to make up for the loss or face consequences, which included death threats.  The other two teammates were not identified by Özer when he had spoken to the match-fixer.

The Turkish Football Federation has now referred the case to the Professional Football Disciplinary Committee (PFDK) for investigation.  The TFF Ethics board will be commissioned to investigate the claims.  Özer could face up to a three year banishment from the sport if found guilty.  The issue will be addressed on January 14th when the TFF Board of Directors will have a meeting to address the allegations against Özer.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Alleged Match Fixing in Turkish Football

On January 5th, national daily newspaper Milliyet broke the story that 19 soccer matches in Turkey have allegedly been fixed. English language daily Today's Zaman also reported this story the following day. The 3,500 page report, prepared by the Public Prosecutor's Office in Bochum, Germany, was submitted to the Turkish Football Federation. The document implicated players, coaches, and administrators in the match fixing activities, encompassing all four divisions of Turkish professional football and calling the manipulation of matches a "casual thing" in the country. A soccer official in the country, preferring to remain anonymous, had disclosed to Milliyet that the report was based on 50,000 pages of phone conversation transcripts that:

"The games were so manipulated that large bets on low-stake games enabled     people worldwide to earn money. It is estimated that the unlawful profits obtained through this 'gang's' match-fixing could be as high as 50 million euros."

Names mentioned in the report include former Galatasaray and national team star Arif Erdem, Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor goalkeeper Kenan Hasagic, Gençlerbirliği goalkeeper Recep Öztürk, and Gençlerbirliği club Chairman Ilhan Cavcav. One of the matches included in the match-fixing scheme was a match in May between Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor and Gençlerbirliği, in which the final score was 3-1 in favor of the Istanbul club. One bettor has verified that individuals who bet on the game learned what the score would be from both aforementioned goalkeepers. According to another bettor, both chairmen of the clubs in question reached a verbal agreement pertaining to the score so that the Istanbul based club would not drop to the Bank Asya 1st Division from the Turkcell Super League. Recep Öztürk is alleged to have bet on the match, making 30,000 Euros as a result of the fix. Also implicated is a match in the Antalya Cup between Antalyaspor and Trabzonspor, in which a bettor received information as to the score from Trabzonspor officials before the match was played.

The Turkish Football Federation has launched an investigation into the matter. The federation mentioned in a statement that "bringing the truth to light will be out priority", and that they will send a delegation to Germany to investigate the matter. All of the people implicated by name have strongly condemned the report.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Turkish National Team – Coaching rumors

The Turkish national team has not had a head coach since the last of the World Cup qualifiers was ended in October. With Fatih Terim's resignation, there have been plenty of rumors going around the internet as to who is the next guy on the hot seat. Perhaps, it would be best for the Turkish Football Federation to get a foreigner this time around. But some internet polls on Turkish websites have had more votes for a domestic coach than a foreign coach. But with the candidates the TFF has either interviewed or are interested in, depending on what one reads, it looks like it will be a foreign coach to take the helm.

One of the candidates is Giovanni Trapattoni. Now everyone knows he is still the coach of the Irish national team. However, Italian coaches have a reputation of getting the job done. The only reason that Ireland isn't in the World Cup at this point is obvious to everyone, so there's no need to beat a dead horse there. Trapattoni might be an old man, but I think he can be able to get the most out of the Turkish nationals. I'm not quite sure about his tactics, as I haven't been keeping up with Ireland's matches during the qualifiers, but he seems like a good fit for the job. My only question is his age, as he is or will be 70 years old, and considering what happened at Fenerbahçe with Luis Aragones, old gentlemen might not succeed. Consider also that Trapattoni's assistant has already shot these rumors down, so it seems as though Trapattoni will not be anywhere near Turkey anytime soon.

An interesting candidate whose name has come up recently is that of Mark Hughes, formerly of Manchester City. Hughes would be likely paired up with Tugay Kerimoglu as his assistant. Hughes I can't be too sure of. He nearly led the Welsh national team to an appearance in Euro 2004, only to fall short. Having Kerimoglu as his assistant would result in quite an interesting pairing. However, I am very unsure about having Hughes in. Perhaps Manchester City fans would know his ways better than I could, but how could he not lead Manchester City to at least a top four at this point with the money and players handed to him is beyond me. I really don't think he could lead Turkey anywhere near Euro 2012 if he gets hired. Then again, he does have the international experience, and he'll be in charge of a national team that has far more talent than Wales does. But he just doesn't seem like the right choice.

Should any Turkish coaches be considered? Sure, but none of them are ready to go into that hot seat. Consider Ertugrul Saglam, currently Bursaspor's head coach. He seems like a very calm presence on the sidelines, but he's inexperienced. Also, he has mentioned before that he would like to lead Bursaspor to a league title. Saglam could be the guy but it isn't his time. One television pundit in Turkey even mentioned the name of Yilmaz Vural, currently the head coach of Kasımpaşa. While Vural has coach an insane amount of teams over the last few years, he is probably the last person to coach the national team. He hasn't had any experience coaching the big three Istanbul clubs, which is perhaps the closest thing to the hot seat that the national team coaching job would bring. He has coached Trabzonspor before, but Trabzonspor has been known as a coaches' graveyard for quite some time.

So who should the Turkish national team coach be? It will be an interesting few weeks or so to see the rumors and such. When the announcement comes, there will certainly be a hack of a lot of fanfare and expectation to succeed right away. With the Turkish national team failing to qualify for the World Cup in 2010, anything but Euro 2012 qualification will be a disappointment.