Its a bit early for the match preview but I'm off to Belek next week so I'm going to be pretty busy in the run up to my annual trip to Turkey. The season eagerly awaited kick off is nearly upon us with Ankaragucu travelling to Kahramanmarasspor on the 30th August with a 2000 kick off. The home side were relegated from the PTT Lig last season and will be looking to go straight back up at first time of asking.
You have to go back to 14th December since the last time Kahramanmarasspor won a game after finishing bottom of the PTT Lig last season. They won promotion the previous season so are fully aware of what is required to get out to the Turkish Lig 2. A lot has changed since then with players leaving and new players coming in as they look set for a title challenge this season.
Former Ankaragucu duo Veli Torun and Sinan Kurumus are both on the books of Kahramanmarass. Its difficult to tell which teams will be challenging and who will be fighting for survival. The first couple of weeks of the season will be about who has had the best pre season preparations and some teams will take a while to get going. Last season Ankaragucu lost 1-0 against Gungorenspor on the opening day before going on an excellent winning run.
The Ankaragucu team has weakened since last season. Bayram Olgun has signed for Manisaspor, Emre Tasdemir to Bursasspor, Mehmet Cakir to Elazigspor while the likes of Aydin Toscali, Ibrahim Sahin, Volkan Yilmaz, Artun Kutucku, Omer Yalcin, Serhat Aykuz, Erhan Guven and Mert Pamukkaya have all been released.
Although the team has lost a lot of players the only ones who will be missed will be Emre Tasdemir, Mehmet Cakir and Bayram Olgun. Emre was the outstanding player last season and it was no surprise he won himself a move to the Super Lig with Bursaspor. Mehmet Cakir had a good season with his goals and assists, while Bayram has been a fantastic servant to the club.
The club do however have one of Turkeys best young Goalkeepers in Gokhan Akkan who didn't have the best of seasons last year. He will be hoping to make the number 1 jersey his own and find more consistency. Both Mehmet Tasci and Onur Atasayer are capable replacements for Emre although don't posses the same attacking strengths. Hasan Ayaroglu could provide that spark but their are again questions over his fitness, he has been working with the fitness coaches but has missed a lot of pre season which is a big blow.
The key to Ankaragucu success this season will be the defence and attack. Gurkan Alver and Volkan Geyik are set to partner each other again at the heart of defence. Both were dropped last season for Serhat and Erhan and many argued that it was a big mistake. In attack the Ankaragucu fans will be hoping that Levent Kale and Umut Nayir can both stay fit and fire Ankaragucu to the PTT Lig.
The coach Muammer Ozdemir stated he was delighted with the Ankaragucu defence during pre season and its something they really worked on. Its something that has haunted Ankaragucu for many years is the inability to defend. Ozdemir said the team will now work on the attack in the coming weeks as he looks to make Ankaragucu a solid all round team.
Kaan Kanak spoke today claiming he is happy with how pre season went and believes that the team are in better shape than they were last season. Lets hope he is right.
The team also knocked back a bid from Adana Demirspor for Umut Nayir, the big forward is wanted by a host of clubs including Kayserispor. If Ankaragucu were to lose him it could have serious implications towards their promotion hopes.
The game is impossible to predicts, so lets just hope for an Ankaragucu win and that i am celebrating in Belek next Sunday with some Turkish Tea !