Ankaragucu 1 Konyaspor 3
I should have known it was a bad omen when my wife bought tickets to Istanbul and we had to exchange them the next day after I reminded her that I needed to be at a match at the exact time she had us on a bus going to Istanbul. Instead I was feeling relatively optimistic when I met Philly Kanka Jamie and Connect Kanka Steve at the bus stop. Despite a few gray clouds to the west, the sun was shining putting us in an even better mood. We got to the Chopin and quickly discovered that we were the only kankas there.
After some food and an Efes (or was it two) we grabbed a cab and hightailed it to the stadium. Good thing too because the Gucu fans were out in droves. It seems most of them were also in a good mood because there was lots of thunderous singing going on. After getting our tickets (10.50YTL each this time [about 7or 8 bucks]) Yankee Kanka and his cousin spotted us.
We joined forces and then headed off to find Maniac Kanka who was waiting for us by gate eight. Once in, we anxiously tried guessing what squad Hakan Kutlu would field, and whether he would finally let Jaba start a match or not?
No surprises in goal: Serkan would be protecting our honor there. But apart from that, this was a very different squad than we had seen in our previous match with Antalya. In defense we had Algerian national team captain and former Galatasaray player Bouzid , journeyman stopper Bayar and our beloved Santos. Elyasa was nowhere to be seen. Someone suggested that he might have left the team entirely. We will have to wait and see.
In mid-field Duruer (I can hear Eski groaning), Captain Erdogan, Hasan and Bulgarian born Semavi who we picked up from Kocaeli. We were also starting with three men up front (Eski Kanka would have been pleasantly surprised by this turn of events): new arrival of Mexican origin De Nigris from Ankaraspor, Metin, and an even bigger groan...Mehmet Yılmaz. Why Hakan Kutlu insists on starting Yılmaz is beyond me. He lacks both speed and skill. It would have made a lot more sense to put in Jaba—that is provided they learn how to use him well (more on this later).
From the score it might appear that Konyaspor dominated the match, but this was actually far from the case. We actually appeared to be playing better football for most of the match—this doesn’t mean that we were playing that well, but definitely better than Konyaspor.
They were however very physical (a lot of limb holding and jersey grabbing) and the refs Firat Aydinus, Bulent Gokcu and Emin Yıldırım were not calling anything against them in the first half (Konya did however receive 4 yellow cards in the second half for the very same style of play). The worst example of this was when in the 11th minute De Nigris clearly got fouled inside the penalty area, but both Gokcu and Aydinus indicated that play should continue. The refs had no qualms, however, about calling a penalty against Ankaragucu when Konya defenseman Cihan fell inside the penalty box. Another defender Ismail took the shot and did what he is paid to do, and Konya got the all important first goal.
Following that, we blew a couple of opportunities. After a nice pass from Metin, De Nigris had an intimate moment with Konya’s keeper Jefferson in the 34th minute, but failed to score. Six minutes later Semavi fired a cannon ball which unfortunately found a sure handed Jefferson instead of the net. End of half. Ankaragucu 0 Konya 1. Nonetheless we were looking better. Konya really hadn’t even had a shot on goal in regular play. We remained hopeful.
When the second half began, I scanned the pitch quickly for Jaba, but he was nowhere to be seen. Actually, no substitutions had been made at all. Nothing terribly exciting was happening either until the 55th minute when Konya striker Veysel advancing on the left crossed the ball to Celalettin who barely missed sending the ball between the posts.
This must have been a wake up call for Hakan Kutlu because a couple of minutes later he finally sent in Jaba. But instead of taking off Yılmaz, he had Jaba come in for Metin. Again what the hell was he thinking? To make matters worse, the mid-fielders started sending Jaba high balls. There is a reason Eski Kanka Jim and Mountaineering Kanka Robbie decided to entitle a report several weeks back Jaba Won a Header: Jaba is short. How short? I don’t know, but it is a rare occasion indeed when he is not the shortest player on the pitch. In order to use him well, you have to take his height into consideration. Even a footballer who has headed the ball a few too many times should be able to figure that one out.
Despite our poor tactics, in the 78th minute Duruer passed to De Nigris who executed a flawless bicycle kick sending the ball speeding unfortunately straight into Jefferson’s hands. But at least it was a good looking attempt. But ten minutes later it was Konya’s Cihan who got through our defense and into the penalty area leaving poor Serkan with no real chance. I think it was at this point that I heard the sound that I dread so much: the sharp crack of plastic breaking. Someone not far from where we were sitting had kicked one of the plastic chairs hard enough to shatter it.
Having been at the Battle of Kayseri (see the Best of the Round Ball for more information) I knew what this meant. Sure enough, it was mere seconds before shards of thick, hard plastic were flying onto the pitch. While this was going on, Bulent repeated Cihan’s feat putting Konya up by three. The Ankaragucu fans were going mad with anger, the Konya fans were laughing and engaging us in mock sexual acts from a distance as green smoke poured from a few flares that some Konya fans had managed to smuggle in.
Elderly Ankaragucu fans’ faces were red with shame as they screamed profanities innocuously back at the Konya fans. Large numbers of fans who had been foolish enough to bring young children sought to climb to the top row and cross in safety to the nearest exit. Some Gucu fans were in tears, some ready to fight. With all this going on, many failed to notice Erdogan’s pass to De Nigris nor De Nigris’s header which found itself in the net making the final score Ankaragucu 1 Konyaspor 3.
Some of the last chants we heard as we left the stadium were those calling for the management and Hakan Kutlu to resign and those encouraging the Konya fans to meet them outside. As far as I know, the first did not happen, but the second did.
Although I have no details on how violent things actually did get, I believe it was Maniac Kanka who told me that Gucu fans had smashed every single window on the Konya supporter’s busses out.
The newspaper Hurriyet described Ankaragucu as comatose in one of their headlines, but from my vantage point, we were far too active to be in a coma. We’re just playing as if we were physically and mentally handicapped.
Report brought to you by Battle Damaged Kanka Damon