Spor Toto Super League standings

Monday, August 30, 2010

Turkish National Team Roster Announced For Euro 2012 Qualifiers

The roster for the Turkish national team was announced earlier this week for the Euro 2012 qualifying matches against Kazakhstan and Belgium. The team is already training for the matches as of the writing of this piece. The roster is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Cenk Gönen, Onur Kıvrak, Sinan Bolat

Defenders: Gökhan Gönül, Sabri Sarıoğlu, Ömer Erdoğan, Servet Çetin, İbrahim Toraman, Gökhan Zan, Hakan Balta, İsmail Köybaşı

Midfielders: Hamit Altıntop, Kazım Kazım, Mehmet Aurelio, Selçuk İnan, Selçuk Şahin, Emre Belözoğlu, Nuri Şahin, Arda Turan, Özer Hurmacı

Forwards: Tuncay Şanlı, Semih Şentürk, Sercan Yıldırım, Nihat Kahveci, Halil Altıntop

Looking at the roster it seems that there are several call-ups that are puzzling. For example, Gökhan Zan has not played a match for Galatasaray this season. While Turkey is not particularly deep in the center back position, Zan is known for being injury prone and not in form at all. Another puzzling call up is Kazim Kazim, who has had displinary problems with Fenerbahçe and has not featured this season either.

One interesting call up here is Ömer Erdoğan of Bursaspor. Although his age is an issue as he is 34 years old, his play for Bursaspor has attracted attention from Turkish fans. His defensive prowess was one of the factors behind Bursaspor winning the Turkish Super League championship last season.

Some glaring omissions are obvious. It is a mystery why Bursaspor's Volkan Şen did not get called up. His play in the league has been stellar and he should have gotten a look. He has only made one appearance for the national team so far, and that was in a friendly. Also not called up is Trabzonspor's Egemen Korkmaz, who could be used as the other central defender next to Servet Çetin. He has been a very capable defender for Trabzonspor this season and with Turkey not having depth at the central defender postion, Korkmaz could be a more than dependable player for that position.

Regardless of the roster call-ups, it will be interesting to see what kind of football the national team of Turkey will play under Guus Hiddink in a match that actually matters. Hiddink has been known not to change things too much starting out. So the roster seems more like a default roster at this point. But the players will have to play for their jobs, because Hiddink will not be afraid to drop anyone who isn't up to snuff.

Spor Toto Super League – Week 3 Review

Before the international break next week, week 3 of the Spor Toto Super League would be played. With three of four Turkish clubs failing to qualify for the Europa League, the league took priority. Fans would have to settle for Beşiktaş and Bursaspor to fly the Turkish flag in the Europa and Champions Leagues respectively. The three eliminated teams, Trabzonspor, Fenerbahçe, and Galatasaray, would only have the league to worry about. While it is still early in the season, the matches featured interesting action, a good amount of goals, and a blackout.

Friday's matches saw Kayserispor looking to win three straight against Ankaragücü, and Gaziantepspor hosting Konyaspor.

The second of two matches to be played behind closed doors due to fan issues in Ankara, Ankaragücü hosted Kayserispor. Kayserispor won their first two matches under manager Shota Arveladze, and drew first blood through Serdar Kesimal in the 24th minute. But Ankaragücü equalized through Mehmet Çakır, who came on as a substitute at the beginning of the second half, in the 57th minute. The match ended in a 1-1 draw and Kayserispor remains without a loss to begin the season.

Konyaspor travelled to the Kamil Ocak stadium to face Gaziantepspor. Mehmet Yilmaz put Gaziantepspor up 1-0 in the 5th minute. Konyaspor looked like they were going to go into the halftime break down a goal, but Johnnier Montano gave Konyaspor a tying goal before the break. Emre Toraman put the visitors up 2-1 in the 61st minute. It looked bad for Gaziantepspor as Murat Ceylan got a red card in the 75th minute, but Gaziantepspor would get a lifeline. Gaziantepspor won a penalty in the 85th minute, and Julio Cesar de Souza converted from the spot to make the final score 2-2.

Saturday's matches saw the defending champions in action, as well as a local Istanbul derby, and Bucaspor hosting Gençlerbirliği.

With a shocking victory over Beşiktaş last week, Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor looked to continue the good run of form against Kasımpaşa. Iskender Alin and Ibrahim Akin, whose goals took down Beşiktaş the previous week, continued their goal scoring ways. Alin scored in the 12th minute, and Akin scored in the 50th minute. Herve Tum put the game out of reach with a goal in the 68th minute, five minutes after coming into the game as a substitute. Kasımpaşa would get a consolation goal in the third minute of stoppage time.

Bursaspor has not given up a goal so far this season, and with the champions finding out who they would face in the Champions League, they would want to send a message to their opponents that they would not be pushovers. Bursaspor travelled to the September 4th stadium to face Sivasspor. While the home team did a good job keeping Bursaspor off the scoreboard for the majority of the match, Bursaspor proved too much in the last ten-plus minutes of the match. Volkan Sen scored in the 81st minute to put Bursaspor ahead. With Sivasspor looking to tie the match in the last minute, all the Sivasspor players, including goalkeeper Sead Ramovic, crowded the box for a corner. Bursaspor goalkeeper Dimitar Ivankov caught the ball, threw it out to Ali Tandogan, and Tandogan scored into an empty net to make the final score 2-0 to Bursaspor. Sivasspor lost for the first time under the reign of manager Mesut Bakkal.

Bucaspor came back to Izmir looking to gain their first win in the Turkish top flight. They would have to do so against Gençlerbirliği. Orhan Ak put Bucaspor up 1-0 in the 24th minute. Gençlerbirliği tied the match in the 55th minute via Ermin Zec. But Bucaspor got goals by Koray Çölgeçen and Manucho in the 63rd and 90th minutes respectively to get the 3-1 victory.

The Istanbul big three were all in action on Sunday. Fenerbahçe looked to recover from a disappointing elimination in the Europa League. Beşiktaş looked to put the loss last week to Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor behind them. Galatasaray looked to avoid the worst start in their history of league play, trying to avoid three consecutive losses to start the season.

Fenerbahçe came home to host Manisaspor, the second of two home matches played behind closed doors due to the events at the end of last season. Alex de Souza put Fenerbahçe up 1-0 in the 17th minute, after Manisaspor goalkeeper Ilker Avcibay mishandled a cross by Fenerbahçe youth product Okan Alkan, who was making his first start at right back in place of Gokhan Gonul. Promise Issac tied the match for Manisaspor in the 48th minute. Diego Lugano put Fenerbahçe back into the lead in the 62nd minute off a free kick by Alex de Souza. Okan Alkan made another good cross into the box in the 69th minute, and Mamadou Niang scored his first goal for Fenerbahçe off a header to extend Fenerbahçe's lead to 3-1. Niang struck again in the 73rd minute to give Fenerbahçe a 4-1 lead. Manisaspor got a consolation goal in the 76th minute though Josh Simpson, but it was too little, too late. Fenerbahçe beat Manisaspor 4-2 and seemed to get their swagger back.

Beşiktaş travelled to Karabuk to face Karabukspor. With Beşiktaş the only Turkish club this season to make it to the Europa League; Beşiktaş looked to get another victory to continue their run of good form. It didn't look for them early on, as in the 2nd minute, Emmanuel Emenike scored to put Karabukspor up 1-0. Beşiktaş responded in the 10th minute, as Mert Nobre scored off the result of a Rodrigo Tabata corner kick. Nobre struck against for Beşiktaş in the 26th minute to put Beşiktaş up 2-1. Beşiktaş kept the goals coming in the 76th minute, when Guti scored off a penalty as a result of Armand Deumi brought down Ricardo Quaresma in the 18 yard box. Quaresma would score in the 83rd minute to make the final score 4-1 to Beşiktaş.

If there was one team that had to win this week, it was Galatasaray. Off to their worst start to a season in 20 years, and with a disappointing exit in the Europa League, Galatasaray faced a must win situation against Eskişehirspor. Otherwise, it seemed that heads would explode at Galatasaray. Galatasaray breathed a temporary sigh of relief in the 4th minute, as Milan Baros scored off a botched clearance by Eskişehirspor goalkeeper Vanja Ivesa. Luka Vucko tied the match for Eskişehirspor in the 37th minute and it seemed that Galatasaray was set up for more misery. But Arda Turan put a smile on the face of Galatasaray supporters in the 68th minute, as he went one-on-one with Ivesa and Turan's attempt was mistakenly put into the net by Eskişehirspor's Volkan Yaman, ironically a former Galatasaray player. Galatasaray got the clinching goal by Servet Cetin in the 71st minute to make the final score 3-1 to Galatasaray.

Only one match was played on Monday, and it matched up Antalyaspor against Trabzonspor. Recent transfer Jaja made his Trabzonspor debut in this match. The only highlight in the match was the electricity going out 39 minutes into the match, leading to a 30 minute delay while everyone waited for the lights to come back on. No goals were scored and both teams had to settle with a point.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Spor Toto Super League – Week 2 Digest

Week 2 of the Spor Toto Super League featured two important matches that pitted previous champions against each other. With the excitement of the opening weekend gone, the second week featured matches that normally would happen later in the season. With the way that the schedule came out, week 2 would whet the appetite of the Turkish football fan.

Friday's action saw a newbie beat a dark horse, and an Anatolian team continue its good fortune early in the season. Konyaspor had their home opener against Eskişehirspor, and got off to a good start when Ivan Lietava scored in the 2nd minute. Eskişehirspor attacked more frequently after the goal but went into the half down 1-0. Pele would equalize for the visitors in the 51st minute. But Konyaspor took the lead for good in the 78th minute, when Adnan Gungor scored off a free kick from Ramazan Kahya.

Kayserispor had their home opener against Karabukspor. Kayserispor looked to give their home fans something to cheer about after they opened with a win against Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor. Kayserispor didn't disappoint. In the 26th minute, Selim Teber made a cross from the left wing, and the cross was headed home by Franco Cangele. Kayserispor nearly made it a two goal lead when in the 30th minute, Cangele made a cross to James Troisi from the right flank, but Troisi's header barely missed. Karabukspor tried to make a comeback through their star Emmanuel Emenike, who had several opportunities, but Kayserispor held on for the win 1-0.

Saturday's matches saw a draw and an upset. Antalyaspor and Sivasspor played to a 1-1 draw after goals by Tita of Antalyaspor and Sedat Bayrak of Sivasspor. As for the other match, Beşiktaş had their opener against Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor. With a strong victory the previous week, it seemed that the fans of Beşiktaş would be well on their way to win again. Somebody should have given Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor the message. The municipal club went on to defeat Beşiktaş by a score of 2-0 with goals from Iskender Alin and Ibrahim Akin. Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor has received a reputation for upsetting the big 3 Istanbul clubs on occasion, and this was no exception.

Anatolian matches on Saturday resulted in the following: Gençlerbirliği and Gaziantepspor played to a 0-0 draw, and Ankaragücü thrashing Manisaspor in Manisa 3-0 with goals from Stanislav Sestak, Ozgur Cek, and Guven Varol.

Galatasaray had their home opener against defending champions Bursaspor. With some poor results in the last two competitive matches, Galatasaray looked to get back on track against Bursaspor. Bursaspor had other ideas. In the 15th minute, a Volkan Sen cross was punched away by Galatasaray goalkeeper Ufuk Ceylan, making a rare start. The cross ended up with Ivan Ergic, and Ergic scored to put Bursaspor up 1-0. A bit of controversy happened in the 45th minute. After Volkan Sen went down, Sen touched the ball with his right hand. Sen had previously received a yellow card in the 19th minute. Referee Abdullah Yilmaz did not make the call, leading to a flurry of protests from the Galatasaray players. Ayhan Akman and Milan Baros would both receive yellow cards resulting from this missed call. Bursaspor cemented their lead in the 83rd minute. Ivan Ergic shot the ball from outside the penalty area, the ball took a deflection, and there was nothing Ufuk Ceylan could do to save it. Bursaspor won the match 2-0 and won at Ali Sami Yen stadium for the first time in 18 years.

Monday's featured match was Trabzonspor playing their home opener against Fenerbahçe. While this was going on, Kasımpaşa and Bucaspor played to a 0-0 draw. But everyone had their eyes on the Huseyin Avni Aker stadium for this big match. Trabzonspor would strike first, sort of. A 14th minute Selcuk Inan free kick was attempted to be cleared by Fenerbahçe's Mehmet Topuz. The ball would end up at the back of Fenerbahçe's goal, giving Trabzonspor the 1-0 lead. Trabzonspor scored again two minutes later, when Ibrahima Yattara got through the Fenerbahçe defense and lobbed the ball over Mert Gunok to double Trabzonspor's lead. Gunok was starting in place of the injured Volkan Demirel. Fenerbahçe got one back in the 28th minute, when a Semih Senturk cross was headed home by Diego Lugano. Trabzonspor fired back immediately in the 29th minute, when Arkadiusz Glowacki headed in a Yattara free kick. It seemed that Trabzonspor would cruise to victory. Fenerbahçe got a second goal from Mehmet Topuz, after receiving a pass from Miroslav Stoch. Fenerbahçe attacked more often in the second half, while Trabzonspor seemed to lay back and attack on the counter. Trabzonspor held on for the 3-2 victory and gain momentum going into their 2nd leg UEFA Europa League playoff round match against Liverpool.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Spor Toto Super League – Week 1 Digest

After a long wait in the summer, the Turkish Super League got back to business. With a new sponsor in government-run betting company Spor Toto, and new transfers, and with two Anatolian teams as defending league and cup champions, this may be the most interesting season in quite some time. While the excitement of last season won't be forgotten soon, it's time for a new season to begin. Will another champion come from Anatolia or will the league go back to the status quo with one of the Big 3 Istanbul teams winning it all?

Anatolian matches on Saturday were fit to be tied. Both Gaziantepspor – Kasımpaşa and Eskişehirspor – Gençlerbirliği ended in a 0-0 score. One of the more interesting highlights was from Eskisehir, where the floodlights went out in the stadium. In the stands, the Eskişehirspor fans decided to put on their own lights show before the floodlights came back on. Ermin Zec of Gençlerbirliği had a chance at the end of the match to steal the win for Gençlerbirliği, as he went one on one with Eskişehirspor goalkeeper Vanja Ivesa. Zec's effort was wide.

Galatasaray came into this season with high hopes for this season. Coming off a disappointing season in Frank Rijkaard's first year, mostly due to injuries, Galatasaray looked to start off this season off on a high note. They went to the September 4th stadium to take on Sivasspor, who avoided relegation last season by the skin of their teeth. It looked good for Galatasaray in the 7th minute as Mustafa Sarp scored from a cross from Arda Turan. In the 43rd minute, Lucas Neill pulled down Sivasspor's Mehmet Yildiz near the penalty area. After arguments from the Galatasaray players and coaches, the free kick by Ceyhun Eris was headed home by Bruno Zita to tie the match. Sivasspor took the lead for good in the 60th minute, when Ceyhun Eris made a run toward the penalty area, and laid off a pass to Cihan Yilmaz. Yilmaz put it home to make the final score 2-1 to Sivasspor. Sivasspor manager Mesut Bakkal continued a streak of sorts continuing from last season. Sivasspor has not lost a match in their past seven league matches, including this match, since Bakkal took over the reins with six weeks to go last season. It was a disappointing start to the season for Galatasaray, while it may provide a spark to Sivasspor, picked by some to be a relegation candidate for this season.

The most anticipated match Saturday was Bucaspor against Beşiktaş. The match was held at the Izmir Ataturk stadium because Buca Arena would've been too small to hold this match. Both teams made many transfers during the offseason, but many wanted to see how Beşiktaş' star signings, Ricardo Quaresma and Guti, would do in league play. Guti was mostly invisible during the match, which Quaresma had many opportunities on goal, but couldn't find the back of the net. Bucaspor held Beşiktaş to a 0-0 score at halftime. But in the first minute of the second half, Guti delivered a through ball to Bobo and Bobo put it home to give Beşiktaş the lead 1-0. Only 14 seconds had elapsed from the start of the second half and the goal. Bucaspor tried to come back, but their fate was sealed in the 75th minute when Ediz Bahtiyaroglu received a direct red card. Beşiktaş got their season off to a good start, while Bucaspor will have to recover for next week.

Kardemir Karabukspor practically ran away with the Bank Asya 1st division championship last year. Retaining last year's manager Yucel Ildiz, and making many transfers to beef up the squad, Karabukspor looked to get their Super League season off to a winning start at home against Manisaspor. Manisaspor escaped relegation last year, and hoped to get off to a good start as well. Although starting only three starters from the previous season, Karabukspor were the victors with a 2-1 score. Emmanuel Emenike picked up where he left off last season, where he led the 1st division in goals scored, and scored in the 46th minute. Emil Angelov, transferred from Denizlispor, scored the second goal in the 82nd minute. In an ironic twist, Angelov came on for Emenike in the 73rd minute. Manisaspor got a consolation goal from Kahe in the 90th minute, but it was too little, too late.

After winning the Turkish Super Cup the previous week against Bursaspor, Trabzonspor looked to continue their recent run of form, starting off their season against Ankaragücü at the May 19th stadium in Ankara. Due to crowd trouble in the previous season, Ankaragücü have to play their first two home matches behind closed doors. Both teams seemed to feel each other out in the first half, and the first half ended 0-0. Trabzonspor turned up the pressure in the second half. Teofilo Gutierrez scored both goals in the 70th and 82nd minutes. Both goals were set up by Gustavo Colman's through ball passing and the resulting crosses from Umut Bulut. With a UEFA Europa League playoff round date against English giants Liverpool this coming Thursday, Trabzonspor got off to a flying start, and Gutierrez may be finding his scoring touch at the right time.

With an embarrassing elimination by Swiss side Young Boys from the UEFA Champions League still fresh on their minds; Fenerbahçe looked to put that behind them as they would open the season at home against Medical Park Antalyaspor. The match was played without spectators as punishment for the events that took place at the Şükrü Saracoğlu stadium at the end of last season. Fenerbahçe's newest transfer Mamadou Niang would observe the match from the VIP box as Fenerbahçe looked to start their season off on a winning note. It wouldn't take long as Semih Senturk, starting over Gokhan Gonul and Dani Guiza, scored in the 8th and 13th minute to give Fenerbahçe a quick 2-0 lead. Alex de Souza would make it 3-0 in the 24th minute and the rout was on. Gokhan Gonul scored in the 28th minute with a chip over the Antalyaspor goalkeeper to make the score 4-0. Fenerbahçe took it easy the rest of the game and won 4-0. One highlight of the match that wasn't goal scoring related was Volkan Demirel being substituted at the beginning of the second half, replaced by Fenerbahçe youth product Mert Gunok. It was later revealed that Demirel has a slight tear in his right quadriceps, making his status questionable for the 1st leg of the UEFA Europa League playoff round against PAOK Thessaloniki of Greece.

With a new coach in Shota Arveladze, Kayserispor looked to improve on their eighth place finish last season by getting off to a winning start. Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor also wanted to get off on the right note, and potentially contend for a European spot this season improving upon their finish of 6th last season. The first half was nothing to write home about, as Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor practically didn't have a right flank, and Kayserispor didn't get off the blocks either. Kayserispor would takeoverin the second half. Franco Cangele put Kayserispor up 1-0 in the 66th minute. One of Kayserispor's newest transfers, Jonathan Santana of Paraguay, put the match out of reach in the 82nd minute, making the final score 2-0 in favor of Kayserispor.

Bursaspor, the defending champions, started off their season at home at the recently renovated Bursa Ataturk stadium. The opponent for the defending champions was Konyaspor, the Bank Asya 1st division playoff winners. Bursaspor was on the attack for most of the first half, but couldn't find the back of the net. But in the 41st minute, Sercan Yildirim, who came into the match in the 17th minute when Turgay Bahadir picked up an injury, scored to put the home side up 1-0. Bursaspor kept up the offense during the second half. Although Konyaspor had their chances, the final score ended up with the champions getting the three points with a 1-0 victory. The central defense of Milan Stepanov and Omer Erdogan impressed many in this match, while recent transfer Leonel Nunez also impressed with his attacking prowess, hitting the woodwork in the 63rd minute.

Next week features some important matches. Fenerbahçe travels to Trabzon to face Trabzonspor in a featured match next Monday. Next Sunday, Bursaspor travels to the Ali Sami Yen stadium to face Galatasaray in Galatasaray's home opener.