MUSTAFA DENIZLI, the coach of , is making the most of a wave of national joy at his team's 1-0 unexpected defeat of Germany at the weekend. He can look forward to his next European Championship qualifying match with confidence.
Denizli has both a well-established and a winning side, a pair of in- form strikers - and a three point lead at the top of Group Three after two wins. The Turks host Finland in Istanbul's Inonu Stadium tomorrow, and they look certain to rely on most of the players who beat Germany and, in their previous match, gained a 3-0 win over Northern Ireland.
"As long as there are no serious injuries, we will come out with the same team," Denizli said yesterday. One player who will be missing, though, is the suspended Tayfun Korkut. His red card for a second bookable offence immediately after Hakan Sukur's 69th-minute goal against the Germans made the Turks' victory on Saturday even more of an achievement.
Denizli acknowledged the Germans had been far from outclassed. "There were definite areas and periods of the game when they surpassed us, but we were expecting that," he said. The coach also seems to have found a successful strike pairing with Galatasaray's Hakan and Oktay Derelioglu of Besiktas.
Oktay impressed when he came on as a substitute early in the second half against the Germans. "The pair I have in my hands are goal machines that a lot of international coaches don't even see in their dreams," Denizli said.
Saturday's win was especially satisfying for Turks, with some two million Turkish citizens living and working in Germany. This year the Turkish Republic is also celebrating the 75th anniversary of its foundation. "The national team has given all our people a 75th anniversary present. I thank everyone who contributed," the Prime Minister, Mesut Yilmaz, said on Sunday.
LENNART JOHANSSON acknowledged on Sunday that it would take some time before Bosnia's divided communities came together in sport following the 1992-95 war.
Johansson, the president of European football's governing body, Uefa, said it would be beneficial for Bosnia's Serbs, Muslims and Croats to combine in forming one league. He was speaking the day after Bosnia, with a team mainly comprising Muslim players, went down 3-1 at home to the Czech Republic in a European Championship qualifier. Football in Bosnia is currently divided into three leagues, each dominated by one of the three ethnic groups. The situation is similar in Bosnia's second most popular sport, basketball.
Before the war, Yugoslavia had one premier football league, uniting teams from all parts of the former socialist country, regardless of the players' ethnic background or religion. "We hope that, with a lot of goodwill, gradually they will agree to move closer together," Johansson told reporters during a brief visit to Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital.Reuse content