Spor Toto Super League standings

Friday, May 21, 2010

News around Turkish football including Fenerbahçe’s punishment

The images of the aftermath in Fenerbahçe's Şükrü Saracoğlu stadium after the events of this past Sunday sickened and shocked many Turkish football fans. With Fenerbahçe supporters burning seats and getting into scuffle with the police while chanting for the Fenerbahçe board to resign, many seemed to shake their heads and some fans of rivals Galatasaray and Beşiktaş mocked them. The TFF handed down Fenerbahçe's punishment on Friday. Fenerbahçe will be playing their first two home games next season behind closed doors. With schedule's alternating week to week between home and away matches, Fenerbahçe now runs the risk of playing a derby match between Galatasaray, Beşiktaş or possibly both, behind closed doors. This sort of punishment harkens back to the 2007-08 season. That year, Galatasaray had to play their first five home matches behind closed doors. This was because of Galatasaray fans throwing foreign objects onto the field against Fenerbahçe at the Ali Sami Yen stadium. This match happened the week after Fenerbahçe had clinched the title in the 2006-07 season the previous week before the derby. Some may see this as a slap on the wrist punishment, but considering that this deals with an Istanbul big three club, and that none of the players were on the receiving end of the anger of the Fenerbahçe fans, it's not surprising that the TFF may have let Fenerbahçe off easy.

There have been some coaching changes for Turkish teams this past week. Gaziantepspor released their manager Jose Couceiro from his contract. While it was a disappointing season for Gaziantepspor, Couceiro tried to make due with what he had at his disposal. But with a disappointing 13th place finish in the standings, Gaziantepspor decided to make a change. The man replacing Couceiro is former Sivasspor manager Bulent Uygun, signing a two year contract with Gaziantepspor. Uygun may be best known for leading Sivasspor to second place in the 2008-09 season, in which Sivasspor slipped from title contention in the waning moments of that season, after holding the lead for many weeks. The previous season before that, he led Sivasspor to fourth place. In the 2009-10 season, Sivasspor did not get off to a good start, and he resigned on October 4, 2009 after a 2-0 win against Antalyaspor. Uygun is known for being a bit of a hothead, and he'll have to keep his temper in control because he will experience growing pains while with a new club. After Tolunay Kafkas left his post with his contract expiring, Shota Arveladze signed a two year contract with Kayserispor, who finished 8th this season, to become their new manager. Arveladze, who previously was the assistant coach at AZ Alkmaar, takes over his first managerial job on July 1st. This is an interesting hire for Kayserispor, considering that Arveladze is still popular in Turkey, especially in Trabzon where he played for Trabzonspor, and that he is inexperienced when it comes to the top job. Kayserispor should be looked upon as one of the teams to watch in the upcoming season, for either the right or wrong reasons. This will depend on their transfers for the upcoming season.

The Turkish national team recently arrived in the United States for their three friendly matches. Emre Aşık ve Okan Buruk will be making their final appearance in a Turkish national team uniform against the Czech Republic on May 22nd. Both men were part of the 2002 World Cup team that finished in third place. The match, to be held in Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ, will have about 18,000 Turkish fans attending. This is due to the Fenerbahçe USA fans association buying those tickets and distributing them to fan associations of Galatasaray and Beşiktaş located in the US. This marks, according to Major League soccer and its marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing, the largest group purchase of tickets associated with the league and its marketing group. This also coincides with the annual Turkish Day Parade and Festival in New York, organized by the Federation of Turkish American Associations, which the players will attend.

In concordance with the USA-Turkey connection, according to Turkish sports daily Fanatik, that Heath Pearce, currently playing for FC Dallas in Major League Soccer, is rumored to be watched, and potentially signed, by current Turkcell Super League champions Bursaspor. Pearce had been previously signed by Bursaspor last year. However, the FIFA transfer deadline had passed when the contract was signed, and in turn, Pearce signed with FC Dallas. In the same article, Fanatik also reports that Pearce himself is interested in signing. Pearce could potentially shore up a good defensive line for Bursaspor, and be able to play in at least six games in the Champions League group stages. He'd be joining a club in which the league they play in is pretty physical, but has the opportunity to establish a new revolution in Turkish football, if Bursaspor's historic championship hasn't done that already.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Turkish Football Weekly - Episode 16

Turkish Football Weekly this week has coverage of the historic championship that Bursaspor won this past week. Also, Turkey's chances for hosting Euro 2016 are discussed with the guys from the Round Ball in Ankara blog.

Turkish Football Weekly - Episode 16

If you like the show, subscribe to Turkish Football Weekly via iTunes.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bursaspor Becomes The 2009-10 Turkcell Super League Champions

Perhaps the most anticipated moment in Turkish football occurred this past Sunday. For years, Turkish football fans have wondered if there would be a fifth team to win the Turkcell Super League championship. Since Trabzonspor last won the league in the 1983-84 season (their sixth title), only the big three Istanbul clubs, Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray, and Beşiktaş, have had a stranglehold on Turkish top flight football championships. It seemed that the only way that any player could win a league title, was to play for either of the previous championship winning clubs. That was true, until now. Bursaspor became the champions of the Turkcell Super League, winning their first title, after never having even finished in the top three in previous years.

The situation coming into the final day was simply this. Bursaspor had to win its final match against Beşiktaş and hope that Fenerbahçe would drop points at home to visiting Trabzonspor. With Fenerbahçe's home ground being a virtual fortress, it seemed as though the people of Bursa had to wait and hope that some good news would filter out of Istanbul. With both matches being played at the same time, the excitement over who was to be the champions of the Turkcell Super League would reach a crescendo until the final whistle.

Bursaspor kicked off against Beşiktaş with the possibility of a title on their hands. They would have to do without the influential Volkan Şen in the lineup due to suspension via yellow card accumulation. It did look good for Bursaspor in the 32nd minute. Pablo Batalla scored for Bursaspor after Beşiktaş goalkeeper Rustu Recber was caught off his line. In the 44th minute, Bursaspor would get their second goal via an own goal by Beşiktaş defender Ibrahim Toraman. Beşiktaş would pull one goal back in the 85th minute, as Uğur Inceman scored off a rebound when the ball came out of Bursaspor goalkeeper Dimitar Ivankov's hands. Bursaspor held on for the 2-1 victory. But whether there would be wild celebrations in Turkey's fourth largest city depended on what happened in Istanbul.

Fenerbahçe came home looking to clinch a record 18th Super League title. The opponents would be Trabzonspor, the same team that denied Fenerbahçe the chance to break their Turkish Cup curse. The match started off with Fenerbahçe coming at Trabzonspor hot and heavy. In the 14th minute, Dani Guiza scored to put Fenerbahçe up 1-0. Fenerbahçe continued with their heavy attack towards the Trabzonspor goal. But in the 23rd minute, Burak Yilmaz put in a volley over the head of Fenerbahçe goalkeeper Volkan Demirel, and into the net to tie the match for Trabzonspor, 1-1. In the second half, Fenerbahçe looked to score, and had much of the offense during the second half. But if there had to be a man of the match, it would have to be Trabzonspor goalkeeper, Onur Kivrak. Kivrak made crucial save after crucial save keeping Trabzonspor from losing. What is funny about this match was the announcement at the third minute (of four) of stoppage time. The stadium public address announcer announced that Beşiktaş had scored in order to tie the match at two goals apiece in Bursa. With that, Fenerbahçe seemed to just lay back and not attack as emphatically as they were during the match. When the final whistle blew, fans rushed the field thinking that Fenerbahçe clinched the title. It wasn't to be. This echoed the final game of the 2005-06 season for Fenerbahçe. Needing a win to clinch the title, Fenerbahçe drew at Denizlispor, while archrivals Galatasaray beat Kayserispor 3-0 to capture the title on the last day. Ironically, that match four years ago ended the first run of Christoph Daum as manager of Fenerbahçe. With rumors swirling that he may not be brought back to coach the team for next season, it seems as if history could repeat itself.

With the news filtering in that Fenerbahçe did not win the league title, some Fenerbahçe fans decided to take out their frustrations on the stadium. Tempers flared, literally, as fires were lit in the stadium. Seats were torn off their bearings and thrown out onto the field. The Istanbul police were called in and had to fire water cannons to break up the angered crowd. Some fans were detained by police and many people were injured.

With the news that Fenerbahçe was held to a draw, Bursaspor players went ballistic, knowing that they had achieved a historic title. Becoming only the second team to break the Istanbul championship deadlock, Bursaspor can be able to lift their heads high, knowing that they beat the odds to claim a championship. Bursaspor manager Ertuğrul Sağlam said that by becoming champions "we have brought success back to Anatolia." With this historic title, Bursaspor now qualifies directly for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. But whether Bursaspor can be able to continue this success is the question.

But for now, Bursaspor, and the city of Bursa itself, can and should revel in the fact that for now, they are the champions of Turkey. Not only did they defy the odds, but perhaps have opened a new chapter in the history of Turkish football. With what seems, or seemed, to be a championship hot potato played by the big three Istanbul clubs, its refreshing to see that a team from Anatolia came in and finally broke through to the promised land. It could send a message to other teams in Turkish football as a whole that if Bursaspor could win the title, then any club could. Perhaps there will be the biggest crocodile walk in the world with Bursaspor winning the Turkcell Super League championship.

A few weeks ago, there was an article entitled "Bursaspor's Final Exam" (written by myself). Bursaspor had the toughest road ahead of them four weeks ago if they wanted to clinch the Turkcell Super League championship. With two of the big three Istanbul clubs to play, it seemed as though it was an impossible task. Now four weeks later, Bursaspor has not only passed that exam, but has become the valedictorians of Turkish football. If any club deserved the title, it was Bursaspor, and they have earned the title of Turkcell Super League champions.

Congratulations Bursaspor!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Turkish Football Weekly - Episode 14

With two weeks to go in the Turkcell Super League season, the action is heating up, and Turkish Football Weekly is right on top of it. Bugra and Ata go over the results of week 32 of the Turkcell Super League. The Ziraat Turkish Cup final between Trabzonspor and Fenerbahce is analyzed, along with news from around the league, which this week includes a rumor that a beloved former Trabzonspor player may return to Turkey to coach a team. The hosts wrap up the show with a preview and predictions for week 33 of the Turkcell Super League.

Make sure to subscribe to the show via iTunes.