Turkey enjoyed a stellar campaign at the 2002 World Cup, jointly hosted by South Korea and Japan, as they finished third after defeating the South Koreans 3-2 in the third place playoff. And if luck had gone their way in the semi-final clash against Brazil, Turkey may well have made it to the summit clash against Germany. But it wasn’t to be.
The Turks also finished third at the European Championship in 2008, but apart from that the past decade or so has been a barren patch for them at the international level. They have failed to qualify for all the World Cups since 2002 and Euro 2016 will be their first appearance at the championships since the injury-ravaged 2008 campaign.
Turkey’s qualification campaign for the summer tournament was not without difficulties and after a poor start they were on the verge of missing out, before finding form in their last few games that sealed a direct passage to Euro 2016 in France. They finished third behind the Czech Republic and Iceland, and crucially, ahead of the Netherlands to book their place in France this summer.
Former Galatasaray boss Fatih Terim has a good bunch of players to bank upon. Barcelona’s Arda Turan will be the leading light of the side that has a good core of Germany-based players, including Borussia Dortmund’s Nuri Sahin, Bayer Leverkusen’s Hakan Calhanoglu and Omer Toprak, FSV Mainz’s Yunus Malli apart from quality Galatasaray players in Burak Yilmaz and Selcuk Inan. The Turks have no dearth of quality in their ranks.
Terim’s charges have been pitted against Spain, the Czech Republic and Croatia in Group D, which surely looks like the Group of Death. Spain will be favourites to qualify as group winners, with other three sides battling for the runners-up spot in the group. Nevertheless, the expanded format of the competition means that even the third-placed team will have a good chance of making the knockout stages of the tournament.
However, with the plethora of skilled players under his command, Terim will surely fancy his chances of taking his team to the knockouts at least as group runners-up if not winners.