Turkey have advantage in battle with Czechs for knockout place

By Reuters
June 25, 2024
Turkey's players celebrate after the match. —Reuters/file

HAMBURG: Turkey’s talented team are in a strong position to put past disappointment behind them and qualify for the Euro 2024 knockouts if they can avoid defeat by the Czech Republic on Wednesday to finish as Group F runners-up.

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With the likes of 19-year-old forward Arda Guler and playmaking captain Hakan Calhanoglu, 30, at their disposal, the Turks lie second to Portugal on three points and expect to progress this time in front of passionate support in Germany.

That would banish the awful memories of Euro 2020 where they went home after eight goals conceded in three defeats. After his stunning goal in the opening 3-1 win over Georgia, Guler was used late off the bench in the 3-0 loss to Portugal as coach Vincenzo Montella worried about keeping him fit.

But fans want to see Guler charging at the Czechs from minute one. “He is our future and he is a world beater, we are all here to see him play and to see Turkey make history,” said Kerem Buruk, 44, an engineer who lives in Hamburg and had tickets for the match at the Volksparkstadion with all his family.

Almost three million people with Turkish roots live in Germany. After losing to Portugal and drawing with Georgia, the Czechs could finish second and qualify by beating Turkey. A draw might also secure them one of the four best third-placed spots. But they will be hampered by the absence of striker Patrik Schick, who scored against Georgia to add to his five goals at the last Euros but then limped off injured.

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