Sunday, May 20, 2007

The fight for eighth

I was checking in for my flight from Berlin to Istanbul on Friday evening when the bloke asked me in English if I was heading that way in order to get to the Athens to support Liverpool in the Champion's League Final.

A weird question to ask considering that A) I was flying to Istanbul, not Athens and B) I had shown him an Australian passport not a Pommie one.

Having already heard him speaking to the headscarfed woman in front of me I replied in Turkish, "No, I live in Ankara".

"So what team do you support?" he asked me, this time in Turkish. Obviously I told him I was a Genclerbirigi fan.

"Truely?" he asked. I then pulled out not one but four season tickets from my wallet and also showed him my key ring.

"I'm a Fenerbahce fan," said the bloke. I just gave a hrrmmph. What I should have said was "Hepiniz Istanbul cocugusunuz".

I finally got into Ankara and after saying hello to Mrs. Oz Kanka I went off to the match.

There was plenty of competition today. The English FA Cup final was on as was the Galatasaray-Fenerbahce match.

But the true fans made it along. And so it was that myself, Spine and Flying Dutchman Kanka met up at the Chopin.

The pubs in Kizilay were starting to fill up with the Istanbul yalakas (yes men) and quite frankly Spine and myself felt quite self-conscious wearing the Genclerbirligi strip. But stuff em all and on we went to the stadium.

Genclerbirligi 1-0 Sakaryaspor

PHOTO: L-R Flying Dutchman Kanka, Spine and Oz Kanka.

It was most probably the least attended match I've ever been too. At tops I'd say 2,000 supporters. But those who did come were true, true fans. Not for us watching on telly the Galatasaray-Fenerbahce match. Nope, we were there to see our team, having already safely escaped relegation, play a team who were already definitely relegated.

It was also the last home match of the season and for this reason we sang our hearts out. We sang out the names of all our players and we also sang in praise of our opponents.

The match itself and we started off fairly strongly but not all that well.

It wasn't brilliant stuff but Draman Haminu did nicely to get a ball to Erhan Guven who got a shot on only to see the ball sent away by the keeper. From the corner, or maybe it was another corner, Okan Amça got his head to the bladder and sent it into the top post.

After that we got a load of rubbish. Spine said he was just sitting back enjoying the late evening sun and quite frankly that was all there was that was good about the day.

After our keeper Recep Ozturk was taken off for what appeared to be a case of groin-knack, Jesus came on and made a couple of good saves. Well... bloody lucky saves really as he dived and the ball hit his legs on at least two occasions.

Half-time 0-0 and the crowd, small as it was, was finally getting into the mood.

And Genclerbirligi finally came out to play. We were all over Sakarya. The first chance though fell to them and Gokhan stuck his legs out again.

After that though it was pretty much all Gencler. Draman in particular was getting through the opposition and Hakan Aslantaş was giving the opposition worries, even if he was pretty hopeless when it came to defending.

It was on the counter attack that the goal came. Draman was just over the half-way line. He had people in front of him but kept the ball to himself, moving it forward all along. Another player might have passed earlier but Draman kept going until he saw that Isaac Promise was ready to run. The pass went through, Isaac got to it and hit it past the keeper. 1-0.

Jumping up and down in the stands as the fans sang, "We love you Isaac" in English.

After that it was total control but we still couldn't find another goal.

As I said before the crowd tonight were core fans and thus it was inevitable that the anti-Cavcav chants started up at this point.

"Except for Cavcav we love you all," was one. "Take your money back Cavcav," was another. In yet another dig at Cavcav was the chant "we want a champion team next year" (this one is not nearly so bad in Turkish as it sounds in English - ie it is an anti-Cavcav chant and not anti the the team).

But my favourite for tonight:

"No one can stop us from fınishing eighth." (in the league that is)

I know it is rare for this blog to ever give tactical advice... well, sort of... but I really do wonder about the way Gencler plays. Why do we insist on the slow Okan Amca up front and Isaac just behind him. Isaac inevitably stuffs up when he gets the ball with a couple of defenders around but scores when he is up front on the run.

Maybe I'm changing my views on Isaac. Perhaps the problem has been the coach Messut Bakkal and the fact he insists on playing Okan up front when instead he should have Sandro playing in the position Isaac now plays in, and with Isaac up front ready to use his speed to exploit the through balls.

Post match and it was off to engage in our other love, darts. Not playing tonight but watching some girls in the 10,000 lira Ankara championships. I appreciated the darts, Spine and Flying Dutchman appreciated the girls.


  1. One day in the future I hope to see video footage of Oz Kanka singing.....

    We love you Isaac
    Oh yes we do
    etc etc
    Oh Isaac we love you !

    Please arrange Spine Kanka !!

  2. Stranger things have happened.

  3. Belated greeting....

    Happy Birthday to Flying Dutchman Kanka Carlo last weekend.

    Sorry I couldn't make it to your `surprise` party but I was suffering from severe footie depression !!!