Sunday, April 09, 2006

Of little cops, silly refs and your lonesome correspondent

The football Gods shined on Ankara this weekend with Genclerbiligi beating Trabzon 2-1, Ankaragucu away beating Kayserispor and Ahmet Turgut's brother-in-law engineering a 3-0 victory over Gaziantep.

It was a bright and beautiful sunny Sunday as I ventured off to the Chopin. Unfortunately every other Kanka had let the sun melt their brains as I was the only one there. Still, I had my Hurriyet newspaper, Tekel 2000 and a couple of Efes to keep me company.

Eventually trotted off to the stadium to find quite a decent crowd. Trabzon had a good crowd while we filled up maraton and gecekondu. I'd say around 16,000 all up, not too bad for Genclerbirligi.

I continued to read my newspaper when I noticed a bunch of three-foot high police officers dancing away in front of the hoi polloi in protokol. How very strange, I thought, went back to the paper but looked back up when the crowd all started laughing. Someone had turned the high power sprinklers on and two people carrying a banner were getting drenched. It was only then that I noticed the banner they were carrying said "Polis Amca Ilkogretim Okul" (Uncle Police Primary School).

Relieved that the Turkish police haven't reduced their height restrictions too much it was time for the match. And a hell of a match it was too.

In some ways it resembled a symphony where the music starts off fairly quiet and then ends in a huge bang of cymbals that scares the hell out of you. Perhaps not the best of analogies as the only goal came in the 28th minute but the quality of play, the number of chances, the number of shots and the number of erractic refereeing decisions increased no end as play went on.

In other words, nothing much happened for the first 25 minutes. Ali Cansun got sort of close (and he should have got closer), but Trabzonspor got rid of it. No shots on goal as far as I can remember until Kerem Seras had an enormous whack on goal. Their keeper saved it but the ball then fell to Mehmet Cakir who drilled it in from a fairly acute angle. I seem to remember Isaac Promise doing something good in the run up to Kerem's shot, but I can't remember what.

We had a couple more chances in the first half, Promise fluffed one of them while Ali Cansun had a shot saved, and then came the dreaded last minute.

Like a song that you can't get out of your head, or a past crime that still nags your conscience, I had a vision of Eski Kanka. A total of 44 minutes on the clock, we had played well, were 1-0 up and Trabzonspor get a corner.

It is at this stage of practically any match that Eski Kanka pulls out the cliche that this is not a good time to be scored against (as if any time would be good) and naturally, the opposition goes ahead and scores and Eski Kanka swears to himself never to say it again (only to repeat himself a week later).

So I looked at the bloke sitting next to me and thanked God I didn't know him.

The corner came in, and.... nothing.

Half-time, the crowd is singing, and Genclerbirligi were looking pretty good. At this stage the kiddies had gotton rid of their riot gear and were doing some Turkish folk dancing. The crowd seemed to enjoy this a bit more than their earlier disco stuff in the police uniforms. (No, it was nothing like that Village People guy).

And we were back. Now the tempo started to rise. We had shots on goal from both sides to entertain us but what really seemed strange was how the referee and the linesmen started to see the match. There were free kicks for fouls that definately weren't, no free kicks for definate fouls, off side flags waved when they should have stayed down and one atrocious non-call when about three Trabzonspor players where offside. One thing though, at least the referee was consistant in his incompetance, each side had equal cause for complaint.

I think it was on that non-decision that Fatih Tekke (of Trabzon) got into a one-on-one with Gokhan but managed to send the ball about 15 metres wide. Laughter all round. There was also much mirth when one of our players cleared the ball only for it to hit the policeman who stands around filming the fans all match.

Final moments of the match. We were all singing away and Trabzonspor are in full on attack mode. A full four minutes of extra time and our hearts were in our mouths and even those who don't smoke starting asking for a drag. It was nailbiting. Two incidents in particular. Ismail Gulderen, I think, buggered up what should have been a simple clearance but luckily the ball ended up sailing over.

Either just before or just after, someone or other from Trabzon went down in the box to the sort of bump that even Hakan Sukur would have stayed on his feet for (although I reckon Nobre would have gone down just before the bump). A tense moment before the referee waved play on. Phew. Final whistle and cue celebrations. Players did their laps of honour and I headed off, alone, to go and look after Little Oz Kanka.

What does this all mean? Thanks to Besiktas only managing a draw Saturday night and Ankaragucu's brave victory over Kayserispor, Gencler move up to equal third with Besiktas (they are ahead on goal difference). We have to actually get more points than Besiktas to get the third place spot as we have lost to them twice this season and the goal average thing was gotten rid of a few years ago (I wonder if that had anything to do with Zalad?).

We could yet be having some European football in the capital next season.


  1. Anonymous2:06 pm

    Good report Oz Kanka.

    Don't worry about Besiktas though. As far as the UEFA Cup spot goes they are almost an irrelevance now.

    Given the cup results last week a Fener-BJK final looks nailed on and with Fener taking up a Champs League spot, BJK will take the UEFA spot that goes with the cup. So it's Kayserispor and Trabzon you need to watch, making this weekend's results all the sweeter!

    I'm fairly sure this scenario is right, but I have been known to be wrong on occasions!

  2. Firstly, congratulations to Gencler on their crucial victory over Trabzon. The battle for the UEFA Cup slot is going to be ongoing till the last match me thinks. A similar scenario is taking place in Scotland between Hibs, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen !

    Secondly, an interesting observation by Brendan about the losing finalists taking an automatic UEFA Cup place. Not sure about the present rule on this, or even if it has changed from past years. There was a precedent set in 2000 when Ankaragucu and Sakaryaspor as losing Cup semi finalists had to have a one-off play off to decide which one would take the UEFA Cup slot. The venue was Izmir's Ataturk Stadium which holds about 60,000 !! Of course, yours truly had to go to that one and I spent 14 hours on the Ege `Express` to get there !! Three quarters of the stadium was closed and it was an eerie atmosphere pre-match with about 3,000 die-hard Ankaragucu supporters there. I think about 50 brave souls from Sakarya were there too !! Well, of course, Ankaragucu won (5-1) and therefore had 4 matches in the UEFA Cup before elimination by Atletico Madrid. By the way, if I remember correctly, Oz Kanka's first match in Ankara was when Madrid came to Ankara for the 2nd leg ??!! Anyway, back to the point, and if the rule hasn't changed then perhaps Besiktas will qualify as `losing` finalists ??!! Perhaps Oz Kanka can check this out with his journalist colleagues who may have some advice to offer ?

    All the best from Eski Kanka Jim

  3. I'll make a proper check to figure it out. As far as I can remember they have changed the rules. Basically the federation was so scared after the Sakarya-Ankaragucu match which Eski Kanka was talking about because if Sakarya had've won Turkey would have been represented in the UEFA Cup with a team from the second division (Sakarya were on the road to relegation -- or had already been relegated when the play-off match was played). But Brendan's point still stands. If Fener win, the extra spot goes to the fourth place getter in the league. If Besiktas wins, then all we have to make sure is that we finish above Trabzon and Kayseri. As Berendan said, I don't think we have to worry about Besiktas anymore.