Nice (France) (AFP) – Turkey manager Fatih Terim has called for more “fight” from his players who need to avoid defeat against Spain on Friday to keep their Euro 2016 dreams alive.
After an out-of-sorts display in their Group D 1-0 defeat to Croatia on Sunday, Turkey need to return to the form that saw them lose just one game in their 16 coming into the European Championship.
Against Vicente del Bosque’s two-time defending champions, unbeaten in 13 European Championship games since 2004 and already just one win away from the knockout stages, Terim acknowledged his men have an uphill battle.
“But there are two games and six points still to play for, we can still go far,” Terim told media at the Stadium Nice on Thursday, although he conceded that even a draw would be a “great result”.
“In tournaments your priority should be to stay in the tournament, if we make a draw we would have a good chance for our last game,” said the 62-year-old who steered his country to the 2008 European Championship semi-final.
Previously fancied by many to make it out of a difficult group, their star talents like Arda Turan, Oguzhan Ozyakup and Hakan Calhanoglu were far from their best in the Parc des Princes.
“Some people thought we didn’t fight enough against Croatia, I think they will not see it again,” Terim said.
Barcelona’s Turan said the defeat by the Croats was partly due to a lack of experience and concentration.
“This can happen in a tournament but we have lost only one game, we got our lessons, I don’t know if we will win against Spain but we will definitely fight more than in the first game,” he said.
Answering media critics back home since the loss on Sunday Turan said that the 1-0 was “not a bad result”.
– Unfair attacks –
“We have young players doing their best to represent their country, but after losing one game after 15 or 16 wins they shouldn’t have been criticised in such a nasty way,” he told reporters.
The team had made the nation “very happy” with its unbeaten run, and did not deserve the criticism, Terim added.
“When we win it is our country’s team but when we lose it is my team, they always exaggerate and invent some stories and scenarios,” he said.
In fact, the Turks were lucky to lose by just a one-goal margin with Croatia captain Darijo Srna and Ivan Perisic both hitting the woodwork, in addition to Luka Modric’s spectacular match-winning volley.
Terim said his team had “dropped physically” in the second half, and that the “big players” needed to deliver more. Turan, who was substituted in the 65th minute, asked for “forgiveness” on Turkish television.
Asked if Turkey would copy the unsuccessful ultra-defensive approach adopted by the Czech Republic in Toulouse, he said playing deep is not Turkey’s style but “Spain force you to sit back”.
“They are one of the best teams in the world, but the game is played on the pitch, we will do our best,” said Terim.
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