Thursday, March 02, 2006

World Cup thoughts (or How Turkey got it wrong)

I was out at the "goal-less" pub Tappas tonight and had a rather interesting conversation with Istanbul Kanka Steve and French Kanka Hande. As usual the debate meandered from the inability of Turkish women to get to grips with the basics of driving a car to what actually consitutes a Christian baptism, proper or improper.

All of those arguements went well over my head but my ears pricked up when we started talking about football... obvious really.

It was the World Cup we were talking about and in particular the attitude that various teams go into the competition.

As this is my blog, and not Istanbul Kanka Steve's or French Kanka Hande's (unnamed Mark Kanka was also involved but said nothing of interest except to give me crap about the Ashes and therefore he will not be mentioned again), I would like to put forward my view of the conversation.

We were basically talking about attitudes. If you cast your mind back to the 2002 World Cup, Turkey made it all the way to the semi-finals. There was great joy in Turkey at this effort. Justifiably so, it is not every year that your team goes so far. But to my mind there was something wrong with the way the Turkish public (and the coaching staff) approached such an epic feat.

A look back at the 2002 World Cup: Turkey was extremely lucky in regards to its group draw. Brazil (okay automatic loss there), Costa Rica and China.

For the quarter-final Turkey was lucky again and drew Senagal. The coach, Senol Gunes had been hopeless all tournament but he finally got rid of Şaban (Hakan Sukur) towards the end and brought on Ilhan Mansiz who scored a screamer to win the match.

Then came what I consider to be a disgrace. In my opinion, Turkey failed to play very good football at any time during the tournament, but particularly it was crap against Brazil in the semi-final which Turkey strolled to a 1-0 loss.

In the end, Turkey played South Korea in the "who cares" play-off for third position. Turkey won it.

Four years after those matches I'm not going to give a blow-by-blow account but I am going to try and link it into the conversation Istanbul Kanka, French Kanka and myself had tonight: ie attitudes to football.

I still can't really understand the euphoria that erupted in Turkey after the the third-fourth playoff.

Third in World Cup is not too bad (better than what England achieved) but when on earth are the newspapers in Turkey going to make the difference between third in the World Cup and the third-ranked country in the world.

Turkey has not beaten a truly good footballing country (sorry Viking Kanka Jens) in a match that matters for a bloody long time. And quite frankly I don't think it looks like it will do so for a long time yet. (Please add your comments if you think Turkey has)

Forget about all that though. What the hell were the Turkish fans doing partying after Turkey lost to Brazil in the semi-final?

This was Turkey's chance of footballing glory. Victory against Brazil would have put Turkey into the final against a pretty average German team and could have cemented Turkey's name in the football archives.

But the Turkish team succumbed meakly to Brazil. There was no fight. I ask you today to ask anyone not from Turkey or Korea who came third in the World Cup? The answer will surely be a blank stare and a retort of "who gives a shit".

But what happened in Ankara on that night. The night that Turkey was humiliated by Brazil? There was a big bloody party down in Kizilay. Streets were closed off and fireworks were lit. I must point out that this was well after the loss, not some some sort of celebration during the match itself.

What the hell. Turkey had just lost a World Cup semi-final and people were dancing in the streets! Total and utter acceptance of mediocrity. Turkey has a lot to learn. Coming third in the World Cup means nothing. Absolutely nothing. Winning is everything. (Well at least when it comes to sport (and marriage))

Now I would like to contrast this attitude to the Australian football team. The Aussies have not made it to the World Cup since 1974 but they are ready to take on the Brazilians in the second match of the group that also includes Croatia and Japan, but in the war of words, the enemy is Brazil.

For this own blog's take on Australia's wishes (or actually England manager Sven's fears of drawing Australia) click here.

The SMH, in a very bad fall of standards when it come to quoting people says:

Kalac said the Socceroos would not hesitate to kick the South American world champions when they met in Munich in mid-June if rough-house tactics were required to progress out of the group stage and into the final 16. Full story

Then we have the coach Guus Hiddink (a good example of hiring an experienced foreign coach when the home grown lot are crap - ie Fatih Terim).

In a further example of how the SMH fails to get decent quotes (but still backs up my arguement):

Australia's boss Guus Hiddink will go for broke and attack when Australia take on world champions Brazil, Croatia and Japan in the World Cup. Full story

The gist of my arguement. Believe in yourself and if you lose cry over a beer. Never celebrate a loss.

I'd also like to put it on record that during the discussion tonight Istanbul Kanka Steve said he would give me 1,000 (one thousand) pounds sterling if the final of the World Cup is England V Australia. Such a shame England won't make it that far. French Kanka Hande was there as a witness to this offer.

Note: while I'm a positive person I think this is a post I may regret in the future.

2nd note: Having read this in preview mode I'm not sure I've made a decent arguement at all. Oh well, nothing new there. One thing is sure though, Scotland and Turkey won't be in Germany in a few months time


  1. Turks in the US were calling in sick to work, just to watch Turkey play in the World Cup games! I did.

  2. Greetings Kankas, I think we need to introduce a new rule for bloggers. No blogs to be written after 10pm and certainly not from OZ Kanka !!! However, an interesting read (as usual) but we have to put things into perspective as far as Turkish footie is concerned. For example, I saw Wales beat Turkey 1-0 in Ankara in the 1980/81 season and at this time Turkey were most definitely an uninspiring team to watch. We should be praising their progress in recent years instead of critising their performance against Brazil. I hate to admit it, but it was Fatih Terim who showed the way to win was to ATTACK and that is why Galata...spit....saray won the UEFA cup a few years ago. The late great Jock Stein once said `the best form of defence is attack` and that is the way to play footie in my opinion. This is what I see Turkey still trying to do and I for one hope they continue in this way. Good luck to them in the future. Oh yes, and perhaps in the future we might see Turkey and Scotland back where they belong ..... IN THE LIMELIGHT !!!!
    All the best from Eski Kanka Jim

  3. That's the spirit Murat! I loved watching Turkey during the World Cup and was bitterly dissapointed when they lost in the semi-final. That is why I couldn't understand people celebrating, they should have been drowning their sorrows.

    As for you Eski Kanka, I'm not sure if I'd write too many entries if I hadn't an efes or 10 before hand. At least you will note that I didn't swear too much this time.