Turkey World Cup PreviewPosted: Monday May 27, 2002 9:27 PM
How they line up
Turkey's best results under Senol Gunes have been achieved with a 3-3-3-1 formation.
Rustu Recber is an automatic choice in goal, with Omer Catkic his understudy.
In a three-man defense, Umit Ozat lines up at libero and is flanked by solid markers -- Emre Asik (right) and Alpay Ozalan (left). If the latter does not recover from an ankle injury, the experienced Galatasaray captain Bulent Korkmaz should step in.
Other candidates for the rearguard are Fatih Akyel, who can play on either right or left, and veteran sweeper Ogun Temizkanoglu. Both can also play in midfield, if required. In front of the defense is a screen of three -- Umit Davala (right) and Abdullah Ercan, Hakan Unsal or Tayfun Korkut (left), plus Tugay Kerimoglu as the midfield pivot, a role tailor-made for his ball-winning ability and accurate distribution.
The battle for the left wing-back slot should be an interesting one. Does Gunes plump for the cultured Abdullah, the rumbustious Hakan Unsal or the tactical discipline of Tayfun? At the moment, Abdullah is ahead by a neck. Combative, no-frills Ergun Penbe may get his chance in defensive midfield; so could the adaptable Tayfur Havutcu.
Nominally, star man Hakan Sukur is the lone striker, but he is never starved of support from the trinity of attacking midfielders. Okan Buruk pushes forward relentlessly on the right flank, as does Hasan Sas or Emre Belozoglu on the left. The revelation of the European season, Leverkusen's Yildiray Basturk, puts his outstanding skills and electrifying movement to good use in the "hole."
A 3-5-2 set-up is another possibility, and it has certainly proved its worth to the Turks in the past; after all, it helped them reach the quarterfinals of Euro 2000. Here, the midfield consists of the wing-backs, Tugay and Ergun as holders and Basturk as playmaker.
Hakan Sukur leads the line in association with either Ilhan Mansiz -- a prolific scorer in the Turkish League this term -- the right-sided Nihat Kahveci, or old hand Arif Erdem, who has been treading water somewhat for Galatasaray of late but still has the vital knack of coming off the national team bench to plunder goals.
Gunes has also road-tested a 3-4-2-1, a system with wing-backs, two midfield enforcers and Okan or Nihat and Basturk operating just behind Hakan Sukur, while a 4-4-2 is not out of the question, either. In the latter shape, the defense should feature Alpay -- or Bulent -- as stopper, Umit Ozat as sweeper, Emre Asik, Umit Davala or Fatih at right-back and Abdullah, Hakan Unsal or Tayfun at left-back.
From World Soccer magazine.