PTT Lig Week 1 preview - Ankaragucu vs Erzerumspor
The long awaited return of competitive league football returns this weekend in Turkey and first up on centre stage is Ankaragucu vs Erzerumspor on Friday night. Both clubs were promoted from Lig 2 last season and have overhauled their squads which makes it difficult to predict the favourites at this stage.
It wouldn't be Ankaragucu if things were to go according to plan and with only 3 days until the game it's still unclear who will be eligible to play for Ankaragucu. As it stands there are only 12 registered players for the club with all the news signings awaiting clearance to play. The reason is due to the transfer ban still yet to be lifted with Mehmet Yiginer claiming the club need 6 Million Lira by tomorrow or none of them can play.
Mehmet Yiginer was very vocal last night on Bursa TV where he challenged the Ankaragucu fans who haven't signed up to Passolig yet. As it stands their are only 7,925 Passolig holders and they would be the only fans eligible to enter the stadium. With the game being played on a Friday night we can brace ourselves for a poor turnout of about 5,000 fans maximum which is another embarrassment for Turkish Football which we will talk about in more detail later.
Former captain Aydin Toscali was also the bearer of harsh words from Yiginer as he stated that Aydin rejected his proposal of receiving his owed money in instalments. Some Ankaragucu fans have been vocal against Aydin questioning his loyalty while others have leapt to his defence.
Back to matters in field and İsmail Kartal is in a difficult situation where he doesn't know which 11 players will take to the field on Friday. If the ban isn't lifted he will be forced into playing some youth players alongside the likes of Alihan, Kenan and Muharrem.
If the transfer ban is lifted then it makes the managers life a bit easier but will still be a difficult match. Ankaragucu have struggled in pre season and İsmail Kartal has been honest enough with his assesment. He said that the team isn't anywhere near where they want to be due to fitness and the number of new players that have arrived.
Of the new players that have arrived Mbamba Kibong has looked the pick of them. His powerful running from midfield along with his use of the ball will be key for Ankaragucu this season. Lanre Kehinde looks like a useful signing but struggled due to the lack of creativity and chances made for him by the midfield and wide players.
Nduka Ozokwu and Ilhan Parlak both arrived late and will be the ones responsible for supplying the ammunition for Kehinde along with Kenan Özer and Enes Kubat. The club are also still looking to sign Cheikhou Deing from Basaksehir and held talks today.
Erzerum like Ankaragucu have had a large turnaround in players over the summer and will also take time to gel and settle in. One of their key players is someone who knows the Turkish Leagues and what's required if they are to challenge for promotion. Mert Nobre the former Besiktas and Fenerbahce Captained the team to promotion scoring 12 goals. His experience and quality will be invaluable if Erzerum are to take anything from the game.
The game will be played at the 19 Mayis Stadium and will also be shown live on Bein Sports 2 after they bought the rights from TRT. Let's hope Ankaragucu take all 3 points and get off to a good start.