Football: Wales given a warning

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The Independent Online
Dean Saunders has warned his Welsh team-mates about the reception they will receive when they enter Istanbul's Ali Sami Yen Stadium for their World Cup Group Seven match against Turkey tomorrow.

"It's an astonishing place," said the Nottingham Forest striker, who scored 21 goals in 28 games for Galatasaray in the 1995-96 season. "The place is just deafening. It frightens the life out of opponents and it was pretty awesome for the home side, too.

"You get the lot: Guns, flares, fireworks, amazing chanting and singing, and it goes on and on.

"Frankly, it's unsafe. People are just packed in there, and the police just whack them if they dare to go anywhere near the pitch. They just wade in and they get away with it.

"The police are fans, too. The one thing you don't do is cross them. That's mad."

Northern Ireland have yet to decide who their captain will be when they play Germany a Group Nine qualifier in Belfast tomorrow. Steve Morrow, who led the side briefly before Bryan Hamilton turned to Iain Dowie and Tommy Wright, and Jim Magilton are the two candidates. Dowie is suspended while Wright is injured for the game which Northern Ireland must win to retain their slim hopes of qualification.

"I've not made up my mind yet because an obvious captain hasn't jumped out at me," the manager said. "That's not a criticism, because a major plus for us is the fact is that we have so many natural leaders."

The former Watford striker David Connolly, who is now with Feyenoord, is guaranteed his place in Republic of Ireland side against Lithuania at Lansdowne Road tomorrow. Connolly, who scored a hat-trick against Liechtenstein in May, will probably be partnered by Niall Quinn after Keith O'Neill was ruled out.

With four games to go in Group Eight, the Republic, Lithuania and Macedonia are level on points behind Romania.