Monday, October 15, 2018

Ankaragücü vs Yeni Malatyaspor match preview!

A huge game for Ankaragücü this weekend as they host Yeni Malatyaspor at the Yenikent Stadium in Ankara. After 2 successive defeats Ankaragücü will be looking to bounce back with a victory in front of their own fans.

It’s  been a turbulent couple of weeks at Ankaragücü both on and off the field, and the club have again reminded us that, with Ankaragücü you are only days away from bad news or revelations about the clubs fiancial situation.

After last weeks 1-0 defeat at Bursaspor, İsmail Kartal said in his after match interview that no manager in the Super Lig has more difficult challenges. Understandably he pointed to the teams injury situation with Heurtaux, Djedje, El Kabir, Mokhtar, Moulin, Cerci, and Putsila all either injured or having had some issues with fitness.

More worryingly Kartal revealed that the clubs players haven’t been paid their wages due to the club having to pay off old debts from the previous Melih Gokcek regime. He had a bit of a go at the foreign players stating that if they don’t get paid they don’t give everything for the jersey.

We can admire the commitment of the Turkish players who still give everything for the club when these situations arise. However I think it’s disrespectful to the foreign players having a go at them and questioning their commitment when they haven’t been paid. We are a Super Lig professional club and when these players signed their contract the minimum they would expect is to be paid their wages.

It will be interesting to see how the team responds against Malatyaspor on Sunday afternoon. Some good news for Kartal is that El Kabir, Djedje and Mokhtar should all be fit and available for selection. Alessio Cerci has also stated that he is feeling good and ready to play. As I mentioned on another post, the Italian winger could be a huge player for the club if he shows the right commitment and stays fit.

Malatyaspor have had a decent start to the season and sit 8th just above Ankaragücü. They have already defeated  Fenerbahce and Goztepe this season and drawn with Basaksehir. They draw 4-4 with Sivasspor last weekend in a thrilling match and have some talented players such as Khalid Boutaib, Danijel Aleksic and Arturo Mina. Malatyaspor have enough quality in their side to take all 3 points and will be coming to Ankara looking for the win.

For details on how you can watch the match with the Kanka Group please see the comments section as Jim will have the details.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Basaksehir sign Ankaragucu wonderkids!

Ankaragucu duo Emre Kaplan and Enes Karakus have both signed with Basaksehir for undisclosed fees much to the disappointment of the clubs fans and coaches. Both youngsters have come throigh the Ankaragucu youth academy and are tipped to have big futures. 

Enes has started the season with 8 goals in 8 games and was also captain of the youth team. With Ankaragucu finances uncertain at the moment it has come as somewhat of a surprise to loose 2 key talents who had the potential to break into the first team. Ankaragucu have a history of bringing through talent from their youth team but they will have to carry on without Emre and Enes and concentrate on the next set of talent for the time being.

Johannes Hopf shines for Ankaragücü!

When Genclerbirligi were relegated last season from the Turkish Super Lig, one man who could be forgiven for holding his head high is Swedish Goalkeeper Johannes Hopf. The 31 year old signed for Genclerbirligi back in 2015 from Hammarby spending 3 years with the Ankara outfit where he became a fans favourite due to his impressive form. Oz Kanka reported on many occasions where Hopf either saved the team from defeat or played his part in the team winning 3 points.

After relegation to Lig 1 last season, Ankaragücü moved swiftly to keep Hopf in the capital and offer him the opportunity of redemption and another shot in the Turkish Super Lig. Ankaragücü and Genclerbirligi training grounds are in the same location next door to each other which also gives Hopf and his family stability and no pun intended, but the chance to play in front of a big support.

For a Goalkeeper, playing with Ankaragücü this season in the Super Lig can either lift your career to the next stage, or leave them behind looking at a rebuild of reputation at their next club. Ankaragücü are fighting relegation and Hopf will be busy most afternoons as the team comes up against the top sides in Turkey.

Eight games into the season and Hopf has already become a key player for the club with some outstanding performances. Korcan Celikay for 2 years was a arguably Ankaragücü’s best player and led the club to 2 successive promotions. It came as a bit of a surprise when Ankaragücü signed Hopf, especially as Altay Bayindir the Turkey U21 International was also fighting for the Number 1 jersey.

The Ankaragücü management have been proven right with the signing of Hopf as the Swede leads the Turkish Lig with 4.4 saves per game. For a team fighting relegation those stats are vital and could be the difference between staying in the Super Lig, and the unthinkable relegation back to Lig 1.

At the age of 31, Hopf still has his best years ahead of him and the next step will be looking at a call up for the Swedish National team. If he continues his current form and helps the club stay in the Super Lig he will certainly be in contention and it will be well deserved.

Having watched him live in action last week in Bursa, the one area he needs to work on is coming for cross balls. He’s a fantastic shot stopper but if he can work on that side of his game it will help him reach his goal of playing for his country.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Alessio Cerci struggles to impress at Ankaragucu!

Alessio Cerci arrived at Ankaragucu in the summer as the clubs marquee signing. The 31 year old winger and former Italian international with 14 caps has played at the very top level with the likes of Roma, Udinese, Genoa and Atletico Madrid.

Cerci arrived at Ankaragucu without pre season training under his belt and was behind the rest of the squad in terms of fitness. It was expected that he would take a couple of weeks to get up to speed, but 8 games into the season Cerci has failed to start a single game in the Super Lig, and has only 1 start to date overall which came in the Turkish Cup.

There is no doubting the flamboyant wingers ability. When he comes on and has the ball you can tell he is the most gifted technical player in the squad. The problem is that when the team doesnt have the ball he doesnt chase back or track his man, which leaves Erdem or Pinto exposed at the back depending on which side of the park he is playing.

Ismail Kartal instead has decided to favour the likes of Ilhan Parlak and Kenan Ozer who although are no where near the same level of ability as Cerci, they give everything in terms of of work rate when they are on the park.

The main goal for Ankaragucu this season is to avoid relegation. That requires every player to be giving everything while they are on the park. Over the last couple of games against Antalyaspor and Bursaspor, the team has been crying out for a creative spark or a bit of magic. Unfortunately for the majority of that time Cerci has been sitting on the bench.

Ankaragucu have paid good money to bring the Italian to the club and can be forgiven for expecting a bit more at this stage. With the international break here, it gives Ismail Kartal and his team the opportunity to work with Cerci and get him fit. He will be a key player for the team if he can reach the level of fitness required.  An attacking line of El Kabir, Bifouma, Mokhtar and Cerci is enough to see Ankaragucu finish in a respectable position this season, the club need all of them on there game though.

Cerci has come in for some criticism in the past due to his off field behavior, most recently with Fiorentina where is nightlife lifestyle and eating habits came into question. Ankara isn't exactly the nightlife capital of the world, but with plenty of nice restaurants and bars Ankaragucu fans could be forgiven for being concerned just how committed he is to the team and supporters.

This is a player who has played, scored and created goals in the Champions League, Serie A, La Liga and International Level with Italy. If Ismail Kartal can get him fit and consistently performing, he could be the difference between a successful season for Ankaragucu and a fight against relagation.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Ankaragucu and Turkish Football run into more financial problems!

Turkish football clubs have historically run into severe financial problems due to being poorly run, corruption and trying to buy their way to success. Every season there are well supported clubs who either face bankruptcy, transfer bans, fines and a loss of their fan base who become disillusioned with how their beloved clubs are being run.

Clubs such as Karsiyaka, Kocaelispor, Sakaryaspor, Gaziantepspor, Altay, Diyarbakirspor, Mersin, Orduspor, Kayseri Erciyesspor and Ankaragucu have all hit rock bottom at some point due to crippling debts that have saw these clubs fall down the leagues with some having to reform as a new club such as Yeni Orduspor.

Ankaragucu against the odds fought against the plan by Melih Gokcek to bankrupt the club, and change the name of Ankaraspor to Ankaragucu in order to remove the clubs huge debts. The fans protested against this and took pride that Ankaragucu are one of Turkeys oldest clubs formed in 1910. They would rather play in the lower leagues with their history intact that reform as some new manufactured entity.

Mehmet Yiginer has along with his management team brought some stability to Ankaragucu and after 2 successive promotions, the club is now back in the Super Lig after a 6 year absence.

For the first 5-6 weeks of the season, things were going very well for the club, and only last Monday night they could have went 3rd with a win over Antalyaspor. Unfortunately injuries to a number of key players, left the team short of players and they have lost their last 2 games against Antalyaspor and Bursaspor.

Those defeats have led to manager Ismail Kartal advising the media that he is up against it as the players havent been paid wages, and this is causing a lot of unrest especially with the foreign players at the club.

I met with the club on Monday and asked why the players werent being paid. They advised that the club still has a lot of debt from the Melih Gokcek period at the club and are still paying off these debts. Any money the club are supposed to receive from TV Money, or the money for winning games or drawing in the league is being withheld by the TFF and used to pay off old debts. The club are working on paying the players ASAP but need to find new ways of bringing income into the club through local businessmen in Ankara.

Its not just Ankaragucu who have these financial problems, the majority of Turkish clubs have huge debts apart from the municipal teams such as Kasimpasa, Basaksehir and also Rizespor who are in a decent financial place.

Turkeys big clubs such as Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, Besiktas, Bursaspor, and Trabzonspor all struggle to meet the financial fair play criteria with all with the exception of Besiktas having had some sort of ban over the last couple of years, Besiktas still have a restriction in place although not to the same level as the others.

With the Turkish Lira taking a hit at the moment, there is a lot of uncertainty within Turkish football. Galatasaray although League champions last season, and performing well in the Champions League so far. There debt was over 590 Million Euros, although they are still to receive over £300 million Euros in revenues. Fenerbahce announced their debt is at 620 million Euro, Trabzonspor 169 Million Euros and Besiktas 418 Million Euros.

The debts and restrictions on these clubs have led to a more competitive and exciting Super Lig, with teams dropping points on a more regular basis and anyone can beat anyone. Akhisar who were sitting at the bottom of the table handed Galatasaray their first defeat of the season a couple of weeks ago.

The problem for Turkish football though is that the more these debts rise, and the longer the transfer restrictions are in place, you are going to see an effect on the clubs results in Europe. Besiktas had a fantastic campaign in the Champions League last season flying the flag for Turkish football. Instead of strengthened the squad in the summer and progressing, Besiktas have been unable to do so and are playing in the Europa League this campaign. A loss last week in Malmo is a reflection on how these financial problems will impact Turkish Clubs.

One of Turkeys most well supported clubs Eskisehirspor find themselves at the foot of the table of the Turkish Championship (2nd Tier) and again this is due to their financial problems and a transfer ban which means they are playing with a youth team.

There is no quick fix as to how Turkish football can move forward. The clubs need to be more astute commercially and the TFF need to actually start doing their job and manage their membership clubs. If clubs are failing to pay players wages, they shouldn't be allowed to sign new players in the meantime as this only adds to the debt, unless a player is leaving and the new player isn't making the wage budget any higher. There needs to be an end also to the weekly fines the TFF hands out to its clubs due to fans swearing. A ludicrous decision with their member clubs in serious financial footing and they decide to fine clubs despite Passolig having been introduced.

The future of Ankaragucu also remains uncertain, this season is all about remaining in the Turkish Super Lig and building on that. Relegation is unthinkable.

Sunday, October 07, 2018



Greetings Kankas and Kankies.

It wasn’t just about going to Bursa to see a footie match.    The main item on the agenda was to welcome Bellshill Kanka Nadeem back to Ankara, not only for his 99th (or was it 100th ??!!) match, but for his first away match !

Nadeem flew in from Scotland last Friday morning and the ‘welcoming committee’ met him on Friday evening to discuss plans for our mega trip to Bursa.

The Kanka Group set-off for Bursa early on Saturday morning in our mini-bus.   Nadeem, Harun, Tansu, Ahmet, Osman, Kenan, Oguzhan, Gokhan and yours truly.    Unfortunately, Damon couldn’t join us due to illness and we wish him a speedy recovery.

We met other Ankaragucu tribunes en-route and there was a clamour form them to have a photo opportunity with Nadeem.

On one of our petrol stops we had the pleasure of meeting the famous actress and singer, Hulya Avsar, and after chatting to her for a while we had a photo taken with the great lady.

Approaching Bursa and there was the customary Police Check on all the Ankaragucu buses and it also gave us the opportunity to interact with the other tribunes again.   High Tech has come to Turkey when the Police used a drone to photograph everyone.   A rare, but interesting sight !

We arrived at the Stadium later than planned due to the fact that only two turnstiles were in operation for the two and half thousand travelling fans.   To use the word ‘chaos’ is perhaps an understatement, but despite fighting breaking out among the frustrated fans, the Police managed to regain control ....... eventually.   A scary moment !
At last we were able to enter the impressive Bursaspor Stadium but it was 5 minutes into the match.   Oh yes, the match !    However, I don’t intend to say too much about it, probably because Ankaragucu didn’t have one direct shot on goal all afternoon.   Okan in the Bursa goal could have been forgiven for falling asleep !!

No sooner had we taken our seat than the first Bursa goal arrived, but after heated requests from the Ankaragucu players, the referee consulted his TV Monitor and disallowed the goal !

As always, there was lots of friendly interaction between the different Ankaragucu tribunes and also the Bursa tribunes.

Unfortunately, the Ankaragucu striker, El Kabir, received an injury shortly after this which left Ilhan to lead the line.   This left Bifouma and Kenan to support him.   However, as I said above, there was not one direct shot on goal, and as we all know, Ilhan is not what we could call a prolific striker !!

The inevitable Bursa goal came in the 22nd minute and it was a goal worthy of winning any match.   A cross came in from the right to Umut Meras on the left who looped a header over Hopf who was perhaps too far off his line.

Ankaragucu’s defence was being overworked and special praise here for Alihan who was putting in some saving tackles to thwart the dangerous Bursa forwards.

It was more of the same in the 2nd half with Bursa looking the more likely to add another goal, but the Ankaragucu defence was just grateful to clear the ball anywhere out of the danger area.

Having said that, Ankaragucu did have three opportunities to equalise.    Firstly, there was a great frun down the left by Bifouma who’s pace was troubling the Bursa defenders.   However, his cross into the box had no takers and the ball was cleared.   Where was Ilhan I was asking ?!

Secondly, Cerci was put through on goal with a well timed pass and all he had to do was beat the goalkeeper.   However, with him being as slow as a cart-horse (no offence intended towards cart-horses !!) a defender easily sprinted past him to clear the danger.

Finally, Ilhan had the chance to be crowned a hero when he was put through on the right, but instead of shooting when well placed to do so, he cut the ball back straight to a Bursa defender !

Almost at the final whistle and Bursa managed to breach the Ankaragucu defence for the 2nd goal, but the goal was disallowed for what reason I know not !

Game over, and the Bursa players were then summoned to the Ankaragucu away end (minus olde boy, Unut Nayir, who jumped ship last season !) for applause and then there was another ‘love in’ between the Ankaragucu and Bursa supporters singing to each other.

Bursaspor    1                      ANKARAGUCU   0

Ankaragucu now slide into the bottom half of the league which heaps more pressure on Ismail Bey to have the team fully prepared for the next match at home on Sunday 21 October against Yeni Malatyaspor.

Before leaving the Stadium area, we bumped into Ankaragucu goalkeeper Altay and had a photo opportunity.


It was then off to Bursa City Centre for the kankas to enjoy some food and ‘refreshments’ in the company of our Bursa friends.

The journey back to Ankara was uneventful with exhaustion overtaking everyone on the bus ride back home.

So, Nadeem is still awaiting the chance to see Ankaragucu beat Bursa, but at least there is little chance that he will forget this trip, especially almost being sucked into The Battle of Bursa Stadium pre-match !!!

We wish him a safe journey back to Scotland on Monday as we begin the countdown for his next ‘home match’ !

All the best from Eski Kanka Jim

PS ............ Another great win for Genclerbirligi yesterday with a 1-0 win away to Altay.   Still undefeated and the Gencler rush to the title shows no sign of slowing down !!!

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Bursaspor vs Ankaragücü match preview!

It’s six years since we have saw one of Turkeys most unique spectacles in the Turkish Football calendar. A country plagued with football violence, and Tifo displays the match between Bursaspor and Ankaragücü brings a different side to the game, through friendship where both sets of fans sing each other’s songs and support each other apart from when they play against each other.

My second trip to Ankara was a home match against Bursaspor where we lost 5-1 at home. The Ankaragücü fans were unhappy with the teams performance and when goals 4 and 5 went in they cheered for Bursa. Not something us British fans can understand but there is so much history between the two clubs started by Abdulkerim Bayraktar, a Bursaspor fan who studied in Ankara and went to Ankaragücü games. After he passed away the two clubs formed a friendship that has stayed strong to this day.

The fortunes of both Bursaspor and Ankaragücü couldn’t be further apart over recent years. Bursaspor have won a Turkish Super Lig title, played champions league football and been a mainstay in Turkish football. Ankaragücü on the other hand have been relegated twice, promoted twice and had also sorts of financial problems.

After week 7 of the Super Lig, Ankaragücü are 5 points ahead of Bursaspor who are 2nd from bottom and have yet to win a game. They also have financial problems of their own all while things are starting to look up for Ankaragücü.

Bursaspor have struggled to score goals this season which has resulted in them drawing 5 and losing 2 of their first 7 games. They do however have Diafra Sakho the ex West Ham striker who is an excellent player when he is fit and will be their main dangerman in attack if he plays. Former Ankaragücü trio Umut Nayir, Onur Atasayer and Emre Tasdemir can also be called upon.

The two sides met in pre season in Bursa with Ankaragücü comfortably winning 2-0. A lot has changed since then and although they haven’t started the season well Bursaspor are more than capable of winning this match.

Ankaragücü can look to take advantage and try and play the Bursa crowd against their own team. They are already unhappy with how things are going and an early goal for Ankaragücü could make it difficult for the Bursa players to come back from as the crowd will be on their back.

Ankaragücü will be looking to get back to winning after a disappointing 1-0 loss against Antalyaspor last night at home. Ismail Kartal will be hoping to have Djedje, Moulin and Pinto back although it’s unlikely the later will be available.

The Kanka Group will be travelling to the match with tickets going on sale tomorrow. My flight is on Thursday afternoon which gets me in early Friday morning. Looking forward to seeing everyone again. See you soon guys


Greetings Kankas and Kankies.

There can be no excuses for Ankaragucu’s inept performance last night when Ismail Bey fielded his strongest line-up with the exception of Pinto, who is perhaps injured.

As Harun said post-match, there were only two serious efforts from Ankaragucu on target during the match and both were well saved by the impressive Boffin in goal.   That statistic is unacceptable for what was a ‘home’ match !

ANKARAGUCU    0         Antalyaspor     1

Team – Hopf, Alihan, Erdem O, Sedat, Faty, Yalcin, Mehmet Sak, Putsila, Mokhtar, Bifouma and El Kabir.

Substitutes – Ilhan, Kenan and Cerci

The kankas met-up at The Anasonn Bar – Maniac Kanka Harun, Nurer Kanka, Kenan and Ufuk.    We were also joined by two of my previous High School students, Berkay and Ozgur.   Berkay is an Ankaragucu supporter and Ozgur supports Genclerbirligi !

Ankaragucu started brightly enough and almost scored in the 3rd minute.    Some nice short passing moves on the right resulted in the cross coming over, only for El Kabir to head his effort just past the post.

One minute later and Antalya gave a warning signal.   A blunder from Bifouma just outside the penalty area gifted the ball to an Antalya attacker who probably couldn’t believe his luck.   He evaded a tackle and his shot rebounded off the post and into Hopf’s hands.    A lucky escape for Ankaragucu !

There was a further scare for Ankaragucu 6 minutes later when a cross came in from the right but there were no takers and the ball drifted just past the left post.

The crucial goal came 8 minutes later when Antalya was awarded a free kick on the left just outside the penalty box.   Hakan sent in a low shot into the crowded penalty area which unbelievably evaded all the static Ankaragucu defenders and took a very slight deflection off ‘someone’ to deceive Hopf and in it went to put Antalya’s tails up !

Ankaragucu should have equalised in the 24th minute but Mokhtar’s effort was well saved by Boffin.    Mokhtar had picked up a loose ball from an Antalya defender’s mistake and took off with only Boffin to beat.    However, instead of curling his shot into the inviting space to the right of Boffin, he sent his shot straight at the goalkeeper who was able to parry it and put the ball out for a corner.   A golden opportunity missed !

Leading up to the half time whistle and Hopf came to the rescue on two occasions with great saves from goalbound efforts.

Ankaragucu started the 2nd half in determined fashion but there was no cutting edge in their attacks.   Also, the Antalya defence had an excellent match and were soaking up the pressure easily which came their way.

Ankaragucu continued to press forward but for all their huffing and puffing they managed only one serious attempt on target.    A cross came in from the right and Ilhan met it and bulleted a header in which brought us all off our chairs.    BUT, Boffin made an instinctive point blank save to frustrate us all.

Antalya almost caught out the Ankaragucu defence on a few occasions as Ankaragucu  pressed forward searching for an equaliser, but Hopf was having none of it with some fine saves.

Faty had a great chance to find the equaliser with 4 minutes to go but his header from a right wing cross went flying past the post.

Well, in all honesty Antalya deserved to take the 3 points, but on another day it may have been a different story.    There was too much dithering in Ankaragucu’s play and their one touch passes were going to Antalya players most of the time.    Also, there was no cohesion between midfield and in attack last night with too many players having an ‘off day’ !

So, time to stop dreaming of that Europa Cup slot and concentrate on consolidating a mid-table league position.

The Kanka Group are now focused on next Saturday’s match in Bursa and the arrival of our Prodigal Son, Bellshill Kanka Nadeem who is flying over for the match from Scotland.    The Kanka Group will be going to the match in a mini-bus and we know that we will be given a warm welcome by the Bursaspor fans.

There will be lots of photos of the event up here next weekend.    Bring it on !

All the best from Eski Kanka Jim


Greetings Kankas and Kankies.

Headline nicked from the fanatic newspaper, which roughly translates to ......... the owners of the summit !

Genclerbirligi refuse to relinquish their position at the top of the Spor Toto Championship League !

GENCLERBIRLIGI     1       Afyon      0

Last Saturday night they continued their impressive start to the season by winning their 7th consecutive league match.

Team – Hakan, Arnason, Alper, Claro, A. Oguz, Sessegnon, Yasin, Selcuk, Ahmet I, Jailton and Mert.

Substitutes – Matei and Nadir

However, they had to wait until the 70th minute to break down a stubborn Afyon defence.   Jailton was the player who unlocked the door !

Bolu and Adana Demir also won and they are obviously determined to keep Gencler in their sights.   They are only 2 points and 5 points respectively behind Gencler.

Let’s keep it going Gencler !

All the best from Eski Kanka Jim