Captain Calhanoglu and company aim to spoil Czech’s party

Reliable duo: Turkiye will be counting on captain Hakan Calhanoglu and Arda Guler to keep Czech Republic at bay. — AP/ Reuters

HAMBURG: At Euro 2020, Turkiye had an awful time, going home early conceding eight goals in three group match defeats. Not this time.

Turkiye’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 today to finish as Group F runners-up.

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.

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.

Czech coach Ivan Hasek said Schick would receive treatment with hopes of playing but CT Sport reported on Monday that the Bayern Leverkusen forward would be unavailable.

Hasek is also praying his team’s luck may turn after an own goal and stoppage time strike against them in the Portugal game and a first-half goal disallowed against Georgia.

“Maybe we will get lucky in the next game,” he said.

The Czechs will also be roared on by massive support from their fans who have poured over the border for the tournament. — Reuters

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