Monday, September 29, 2008

Bruce and James meet the Ambo

It was a private conversation in which nothing of any importance was said, says Oz Kanka with his journalist hat not only off but squashed in under the seat. 

The Australian ambassador, Peter Doyle, invited Genclerbirligi Aussies Bruce Djite and James Troisi over for drinks at his residence Monday afternoon. A one-hour meet and greet session turned into a three-hour discussion on everything about Gencler, Turkey in general and the cultural difficulties that the new blokes are experiencing in Turkey, as well as the all the wonderful things they are learning about our great city (although admittedly they say they are training so hard that they have hardly had any time to learn much about Turkey). 

As I said, this was an "off the record" meeting and so I'm not going to say much more. What I can say however is that the two Aussies now at Gencler are keen and ready to do well. They are pretty nice blokes into the bargain. And before he kills me, so is James' dad Alby (hope I got the spelling right). I've handed them all "round ball in Ankara" business cards and so if you are reading this James or Bruce or Alby, click on the "contact us" button to the right of this post and send me your e-mail address so we can get you all incorporated (or is that intoxicated) into the expat community here in Ankara. Dinner at my place is the first offer. 

A big thanks to the Australian ambassador for hosting the informal drinks. Oh yes, and also thanks to Emin from Red Lion darts fame for showing the boys (and by God I did feel bloody old sitting next to the two players) that at least one Aussie Turk supports Gencler.  

And one more thing before I forget, James' dad Alby said that he was the man behind the James Troisi website.

Left to right: James Troisi, Oz Kanka, Bruce Djite and Darts Man Emin.

Left to right: Emin, James' dad Alby and HE Mr. Peter Doyle (not often that we ever bother with honourifics but as I was drinking his beer I guess I ought to call him His Excellency this time at least).


Greetings Kankas and Kankies.

What a relief ! The first league win of the season should be achieved quickly for team confidence, but it took Ankaragucu to Game 5 to do it.

Hacettepe 0 ANKARAGUCU 1

It was not important how the victory was secured last night. The 3 points was up for grabs and Ankaragucu did what was necessary, but …… only just !

We met up at The Chopin Bar with yours truly in first (I was thirsty) ! Shortly after I was joined by Battle Damaged Kanka Damon, Rip Off Kanka Erman, Maniac Kanka Harun, Marash Kanka Hakan and then …… surprise surprise …… Oz Kanka with Mini Oz Kanka. Mathew had given dad permission to join us for drinkies, but NOT for the match !

We headed off to the Stadium, and as it was our `away` match, we decided to go to Kapali where we were joined by my old friend Emir, one of the old Pegasus stalwarts.

Mutterings of discontent from me when Murat Duruer was named in the starting line up, and with Jaba out injured I was none too pleased. Actually, Jaba was sitting not far from us and when Battle Damaged gave him a wave he acknowledged with a wave and a smile to make Damon a Happy Kanka !

The first half had all the hallmarks of early season matches with passes going astray, lots of high balls up to Mehmet and full-on tackles. However, Ankaragucu was looking the more likely to score and Mehamet and Gokhan went close on several occasions. Serkan was rarely troubled but when called upon, he dealt with everything. He is beginning to look the finished article and that bodes well for the upcoming matches.

The 2nd half was pretty even but still I thought Ankaragucu was looking in better shape than Hacettepe. Then with 15 minutes of the match remaining and with the game heading for a goal-less draw, a piece of magic from Mehmet. A fast break down the left, the ball swung over and the in-rushing Mehmet bulleted the ball in with Recep helpless.

Turn up the volume with Gecikondu and Maraton (crowded into the away end) in full voice and us 5 kankas jumping up and down in ……. relief !

Off went Gokhan, Duruer and Mehmet, and on came Metin, Iglesias and Tolga. What we have we keep, was obviously in Hakan Kutlu’s mind.

Then with 5 minutes of the match remaining we witnessed a bizarre decision by the referee, Deniz Coban. Iglesias and Orhan were chasing the same ball and they high-tackled the ball at the same time which resulted in both players going down. I honestly don’t know what was in the referee’s mind as he showed the red card to both players. If he thought is was dangerous play, then it would a yellow card. He could only give a red if the tackle was malicious. However, as I said, they were BOTH going for the ball. I think it was Marash who suggested that the referee may have brought the wrong card out and then was too `chicken` to admit his mistake. Well, only HE knows what the hell he was thinking about !

Some positives ? I mentioned Serkan. I should also mention El Yasa’s `goal` which was deemed offside grrrrrrrrr, Moine was solid in the back as usual, and Murat Erdogan who never stopped chasing.

Final whistle, and sighs of relief all round. Back to The Chopin to celebrate ….. yessssss ! We watched CimBom give Konya a footie lesson. I hope Hakan Kutlu was watching and taking note of the speed of the CimBom attack. He needs to have a plan to stop it from functioning when they come visiting. I was particularly impressed with Baros !

So, two wins in succession for Ankaragucu and all to look forward to next Sunday. The BIG local derby on Sunday KO 8pm with Ankaragucu the home team against Gencler. Meeting in The Chopin as usual from 5.30pm.

All the best from Eski Kanka Jim

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A diaphanous curtain of rain

The unseasonal weather continues and it was rainy and cold as I trooped into the Chopin. I wasn't expecting many kankas what with today being the first day of the nine day "holiday" and so I was certainly surprised to see Battle Damaged Kanka Damon nursing an extra large beer.

A chat about philosophy and the intellectual underpinnings of vegetarianism, along with a bit of footy talk and it was off to the stadium.

Just about to enter the gates and I realised I had left my season tickets at home, all eight of them. Curses as we headed off for the ticket booth and, as luck would have it the first person I saw was Anil from the Alkaralar group. He happened to have one spare season ticket. Ten metres later we bumped into Fatih from Alkaralar and he also had a spare ticket. Sorted.

Genclerbirligi 1 - 1 Ankaraspor

Nice cosy seats and the match kicked off. Playing under what looked like to us a diaphanous curtain of rain Gencler started off well. Ankaraspor were stacking the back and so we didn't have many chances but had we been a bit more purposeful up front we could have been ahead. Ankaraspor had a few nice moves on the counter attack and a couple of good shots as well but I thought we played the better football. Battle Damaged Kanka reckoned it was about even.

Second half and it was more of the same. Burhan and Mustafa Pektemek were playing well and our midfield were stringing good passes together. Battle Damaged said we looked a lot better than Ankaragucu have lately (admittedly that isn't saying much) but still we may be good at getting the ball to the box but the execution was lacking... yet again.

Then disaster struck in the 77th when Ankaraspor managed to get a ball across our goalkeeper and someone tapped it in. Appeals went up for offside, a foul and whatnot but the goal stood.

Just a few minutes later Mustafa Pektemek was clearly fouled in the box and we received a penalty. Kahe clearly wanted to lose the memory of his first miss in the penalty shootout in the cup final in May and stood up to take it. And in. 1-1.

The rest of the match was all Gencler trying to get the winner but again, the final touch was just not there.

Match over. 1-1.

Some questions must be asked of our coach Mesut Bakkal. We only used one substitute and it was pretty clear that we needed a fresh pair of legs, or more, towards the end. By the way, neither of the Aussie two played tonight. Disappointing for me and also for Battle Damaged as he wanted to see the Italian-Aussie James Troisi come on.

Just one other aside, it was raining all match and the artificial pitch still looked good. The ball was a bit slower at times when it was really bucketing down but all up I'm liking this new pitch better and better each week.

Friday, September 26, 2008

New look

Don't get too alarmed, I'm just playing around with the blog as I've finally moved it to blogger's new template thingy. I still want to make a couple of changes. Any suggestions?

Ertank's Gencler climbing in Nepal

While it isn't exactly another peak bagged for Genclerbirligi it ain't far off with Ertank Kanka wearing his Genclerbirligi shirt "claiming" Ganja La pass in Nepal (5,106m/16,799ft) for Gencler.

Getting quite a collection now. Mountaineering Kanka Robbie has now claimed Hasan Dag, Kilamanjaro and a volcano in Bali, Oz Kanka claimed Mt. Bolu and Sir Eski Kanka claimed Uchisar in Cappadocia.

Keep climbing Kankas.

Check out our "bagged peaks" in the photo archive

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Greetings Kankas and Kankies.

After last weekend's `Battle of 19 Mayis Stadium`, peace was finally declared prior to last night's 2nd Round Turkish Cup match.

The websites of the Tribunes were busy over the past few days with words of contrition and a peace treaty was the sensible way forward ..... thankfully.

So to footie .....

ANKARAGUCU 5 Giresun 1

Maniac Kanka Harun, Rip Off Kanka Erman and I met in The Cappadokia Bar, and after `refreshments`, off we went to The Stadium and took our usual place in Maraton.

Lots of singing from Maraton and Kapali, but Gecikondu was unusually quiet. However, after calls of encouragement from Maraton and Kapali, they fired themselves up.

Giresun took the lead in the first few minutes of the match with the Ankaragucu defence `sleeping`. A great through ball which took everyone by surprise and left Serkan with no chance.

Perplexed looks from the 3 of us and all those around us. Hands being thrown up by the defence and guilty looks all round with Serkan shaking his head in disgust.

Time to step up a gear, and so they did. It was all Ankaragucu now with waves of attacks and the equaliser coming from Jaba when he seized on a loose ball to tap in.

The 2nd followed soon after from a Mehmet Yilmaz header and that's how it stayed till half time. Giresun were beginning to come more into the match as half time approached, but Moine and Tolga (solid in defence) had an easy task of breaking things up.

Into the 2nd half with Ankaragucu attacking the Gecikondu end and it was a delight to see the team on all-out attack.

Half way through the 2nd half the master-stroke was delivered by Hakan Kutlu when he introduced Gokhan and Murat Erdogan at the same time.

The response was immediate with both players playing pivotal roles in making the result secure.

Gokhan's running on the right and Erdogan's on the left had Giresun's defence spinning in circles. Gokhan set-up the 3rd for Mehmet to send in a screamer, and Erdogan added a 4th to put the game beyond Giresun.

The 5th came at the end when the Giresun goalkeeper brought Leandro down in the penalty area. Moine made no mistake from the spot.

So, all in all, a satisfying night with peace on the terraces and a long overdue convincing victoreeee. Goals breed confidence !

Lots of positives to take from the match, but a special mention for Erdogan, my Man of the Match, who covered every blade of `false` grass in search of the ball. He was also a tiger in the tackle ! A great example for the team which will hopefully be spelt out by Hakan Kutlu in training. Have to say that Murat Duruer again failed to impress me. My guess is that it is time for Leandro to replace him up front !

Ankaragucu will now enter the group phase and I will post the composition of the group when it is announced by the TFF.

Next up is the `away` league match against Hacettepe on Sunday KO 8pm. Meeting in The Chopin as normal from 5.30pm. Going to the Stadium at 7pm.

Look forward to seeing you there.

All the best from Eski Kanka Jim

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gencler out of the cup

Alanyaspor 2 - 1 Genclerbirligi

Oh dear. I don't know much about what happened down on the Med but it appears that Gencler had to play with 10 men after Kerem was sent off in the 34th minute.

As if that was bad enough the winning goal was scored in the fourth minute of extra time.

So that's it... we are out of the Turkish Cup. To think it was only a few months ago when Spine, French Kanka Hande, Maniac Kanka Harun and myself went off to Bursa to watch Gencler lose the Turkish Cup final on penalties.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Gencler go down after Alex goes down

Away to Fenerbahce is never going to be easy and tonight was no exception as Genclerbirligi went down 3-0 to a team that was certainly better but which is lucky to have such a good cheat in the form of Alex.

I watched the match down at the Capadokia Bar and was fairly happy with the opening stanza. Gencler were playing some nice football, and so was Fenerbahce, and it was a piece of brilliance from Brazillian Alex De Souza who made the difference.

He was in front of goal with two players on him, he managed to get around them and score from a wonderful angle. It was annoying, but it was a good goal.

Having praised the fellow it is now time to denigrate him as a cheat. In what was so clearly a dive he managed to get our fullback and captain El Saka sent off. Everyone in the pub were saying it was a dive, including the Fener fans.

That was about the 60th minute mark and well, the game was done. Gencler tried hard for an equaliser but with a man down it was only inevitable that Fener were going to get a few more against us.

So well done Alex, a wonderful goal, and a wonderful dive...


Greetings Kankas and Kankies.

Frustration, disappointment and a battle. We had it all in Ankara last night, except goals !


The evening started off well enough when we met in The Chopin with the rain pissing down. Marash Kanka Hakan, Selda Kankie and I were first to arrive followed by Mountaineering Kankas Robbie and Judy with their entourage of 27 newcomers to Bilkent University. Too many to mention by name, but they came from far and wide – Canada, USA and Ingallind. They were closely followed by Maniac Kanka Harun, Yankee Kanka and Battle Damaged Kanka Damon with a heap of Ankaragucu scarves for the new kankas.

Lots of `Kodak Moments` which will hopefully end up here in the next day or two.

There then followed the logistical problem of ferrying everyone to the same meeting point at the Stadium in a fleet of about 9 taxis. Well, we did it, but only just !

The Stadium was only half full with only 2 or 3 brave souls in the away end. Lots of singing and dancing from the Ankaragucu tribunes as usual, and unusually, a distinct lack of Police in the tribunes. This was to prove an error of judgement later !

The match got underway with Ankaragucu in full-on attack mode but I have to hand it to the BBS defence – they were also in full-on mode and were dealing easily with the diminutive Jaba and Mehmet. Gokhan was proving a problem for the full backs but every time he slung over a cross the `giants` at the heart of the BBS defence were clearing with ease.

I counted only one clear chance in the first half when Jaba fired wide, but apart from that, the BBS goalkeeper wasn’t troubled. Serkan, on the other hand, had a few good saves, and not for the first time this season, received my Man of the Match award.

Both defences were guilty of hoofing the ball out of defence. BBS were content to hoof it anywhere and were obviously happy with one point. Ankaragucu persisted in hoofing it up to Mehmet, but even he was dwarfed by the BBS `giants` and rarely won anything in the air.

BBS came more into the match in the 2nd half and Serkan again made 2 outstanding saves to save the blushes.

Leandro’s introduction half way through the 2nd half added some bite to Ankaragucu’s attacking options but all credit to the BBS defence for their efforts. My guess is that it will take a good team to break them down this season.

Ankaragucu’s woes continue and with 2 points from 4 matches confidence is low.

The frustration of the supporters finally snapped near the end when fighting broke out in the Gecikondu end. God only knows why they decided to fight each other. Also, it’s not the first time I have seen this happening !

There then followed a slanging match between Gecikondu against Maraton and Kapali. It was not clear what started this stupidity, but my guess is that Gecikondu was calling for management resignations and Maraton and Kapali were calling for Gecikondu to support the team.

On the final whistle the atmosphere was tense, but even at that stage there was no warning of what was to follow.

We exited the Stadium and grouped together under the columns and just as we were preparing to go for our taxis all hell broke loose.

Gecikondu and Maraton were in a serious running battle all around us and we were caught in the middle, and with Police batons flying it was bedlam. Also, at this point some of the new kankas became detached from the main group and we lost contact.

We then retreated back into the Stadium for safety under the protection of a few policemen while the remainder of the under-strength policemen tried to deal with the battle.

Eventually we made our way around the perimeter of the Stadium to a minor gate with the battle still raging outside the Stadium. Fortunately, we made contact with the other group of kankas and we came together in one piece.

A disgraceful exhibition from our own supporters and not the advertisement we wanted to show our new kankas. However, all credit to all 27 for being philosophical about it, and as I explained to them, it would be the last match on the fixture list which I would have expected trouble.

The upside is that we all escaped unscathed and we took off to the Knight and Flight Pub to `lick our wounds`, congratulate ourselves for escaping, play some darts and more importantly …… to drink some Efes !

So, another battle story to enter the annals of the Blog history. Let’s hope it’s the last !

To the future then and the next home match will be this Wednesday when Ankaragucu plays Giresun in the 2nd Round of the Cup. Waiting to hear KO time which I will post as soon as possible.

Next Sunday it is the Hacettepe v Ankaragucu league match. KO 8pm and so meeting in The Chopin from 5.30pm.

I am planning to attend both and will be praying for an end to hostilities !

All the best from Eski Kanka Jim

PS..... Apologies from me to the Gencler Kankas for failing to turn-up at The Cappadokia to watch the final stages of the Fener v Gencler match. I accept full responsibility and owe you all a beer at the very least !
PPS ..... 23 September. Photos of the new `mesmerised` kankas taken by Maniac and Yankee Kankas.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hibs 2-1 Dundee Utd

Hibs and Dundee Utd served up a great game of football last Saturday ending up in a 2-1 win for Hibs.

Hibs had the better of the first half but could not hold onto a 1-0 lead with Lee Wilkie equalising for Utd right on the stroke of half time. Hibs had taken the lead when Steven Fletcher scored his first goal of the season with a diving header into the top corner.

Utd came into the game after the break and had Hibs on the rack for the first 15 minutes.

Fortunately for Hibs, they received a massive lift when Derek Riorden made his return from Celtic and replaced Joe Keenan in midfield.

Within five minutes of coming on Hibs were back ahead. A quick counter attack left the Utd defence chasing shadows and ended with Steven Fletcher side footing in his second of the match.

The match continued to be a close affair until Sol Bamba, making his debut, picked up his second booking to send Hibs down to ten men.

Utd piled on the pressure but to no avail.Three great points for Hibs, hopefully they can now put a bit of a run together and head back up the league

Monday, September 15, 2008


Greetings Kankas and Kankies.

After two unlucky losses at the beginning of the season, Ankaragucu finally picked-up a valuable point in Gaziantep.

Gaziantepspor 2 ANKARAGUCU 2

Going to Gaziantep and taking a point is not quite in the same category as Fulham going to Old Trafford and taking a point – but I’m sure you get the picture ! So, not so much as 2 points lost as 1 point gained !

Antep opened the scoring on 14 minutes through Yozgatli and that’s how it stayed until Ankaragucu equalised through our new Brazilian, Leonardo, on 51 minutes.

Antep made it 2 on 76 minutes through Ivan, but true to last season’s endeavours, Ankaragucu heads didn’t go down. There then followed a `red mist` until the equaliser from Moine Chaabani in time added on.

Yozgatli of Antep received the red card from referee, Cuneyt Cakir, on 86 minutes. This was followed shortly after by red cards for Ibrahim Ege and Deumi on 90 minutes for what was probably `a slapping match`.

I have to say that I admire Ibraham’s aggression and `will to win` attitude, but as in last weeks’s `friendly` in Yenikent, he has to learn to control his aggression within the Laws of the Game !

Moine received the 4th red card after scoring the equaliser, probably for `over-celebration` ?!

So, Ankaragucu is up and running and should have a psychological advantage for the visit of Istanbul BBS next weekend, albeit without 2 of our regulars.

Next weekend’s match against Istanbul BBS will be played on Saturday KO 8pm. Meeting in The Chopin Bar from 5.30pm and going to the Stadium at about 7pm.

Look forward to seeing you there to celebrate Ankaragucu’s first win of the season and let’s hope we put a `man marker` on Bebbe to prevent a goal against his old club !

All the best from Eski Kanka Jim

Genclerbirligi get started

Genclerbirligi 3 - Eskisehirspor 1

After a shaky start to the season (one draw and a loss) Genclerbirligi finally got their act together last night with a well deserved 3-1 victory over newly-promoted Eskisehirspor. 

Despite it being Ramadan the bar streets of Kizilay seemed to be doing a decent trade. Trade was clearly up for the Chopin as when I arrived Maniac Kanka Harun and Eski Kanka Jim were doing very well in their quest to increase the profits of the Efes bira grubu.

Those two were at the Chopin purely for the beer and so didn't join myself, Spine, Alpine Kanka Wolfgang, Flying Dutchman Kanka Carlo and The Dartsman Oguz for the match itself. 

Didn't take long for Genclerbirligi to silence the fairly large Eskisehir away crowd with some lovely one-twos on a pitch the artificial pitch that I'm starting to think will result in some great football throughout the season. 

The first goal came in the seventh minute after a wonderful run down the left that started in our half. Two or three passes were strung together, all within a foot or so of the sideline, with Ergun getting an excellent cross in for Mustafa Pektemek to whack it in. 1-0 up.

The referee then seemed that he ought to join Eskisehirspor but even he couldn't not give us a penalty when Mehmet Nas was taken down inside the box. 

Aussie Bruce stepped up, sent it along the ground to the right but Eskisehir's 11 foot tall keeper managed to stop it, luckily Erkan was on hand to follow up. 2-0.

Half-time and it was looking good. Genclerbirligi were playing nice football and if some of the players had a bit more confidence and initiative we could have been a few more up. 

Second-half and it was again all Genclerbirligi and at about 60 minutes Aussie Bruce made a brilliant one-touch pass which sent Engin into miles of space down the left. Engin sent in a lovely cross where Pektemek latched onto to put us three-nil ahead. Happy times indeed. 

With such a big lead Messut Baykal brought off Aussie Bruce and replaced him with Addo, a defender. A smart move perhaps but it was pretty clear that Gencler haven't used the "3-0 up" training scenario recently. here were all sorts of hassles with no one really knowing what they were doing and this was in part to blame for Eskisehir's only goal of the match. 

All up a great win. As I said earlier the artificial pitch looks great and is clearly going to favour those who play a passing game. One thing we have to be wary though is that Gencler may like to play fast attacking football but they had better get their fitness levels up as it was pretty clear they were tiring towards the end. 

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Greetings Kankas and Kankies.

The Turkish Cup now heads into the 2nd Round, which is an elimination round prior to the teams going into the group phase.

The 2nd Round matches will be played on Wednesday 24 September. Still waiting for KO times but I will post them when known.

With the exception of ANKARAGUCU, all the Ankara teams have been drawn away from home.

ANKARAGUCU v Giresunspor

Alanyaspor v Genclerbirligi

Haceteppe travel to Malatya and Ankaraspor to Istanbulspor

I am hoping the Ankaragucu match will be an evening KO so that we can make it.

All the best from Eski Kanka Jim

PS..... I wonder if Oz Kanka will `arrange` another holiday visit to Alanya ???

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Greetings Kankas and Kankies.

For those of you who read Gulay's Galatasaray Blog, you may recall reading Metin’s comments in a recent post where he mentioned a possible merger between Ankaragucu and Ankaraspor. I also mentioned that Cemal Aydin and Melih Gokcek had been seen together regularly recently, and also in the company of a high ranking politician whose name I won’t mention in this Blog !

Well, having discussed the subject with Maniac Kanka last night, it seems like this `rumour` may well come to fruition. There was even an article in The Hurriyet this morning about it !

Maniac’s opinion is that it will happen. My retort was ……. Okay, if and when it does happen what will it do to the balance of the league ? Maniac just shrugged his shoulders and said …….. this is Turkey and it can happen !

Before Oz Kanka mentions it, which I’m sure he will ……. the precedent was set in 1980 (this has also been mentioned on numerous occasions on this Blog !),

It is well recorded in this Blog that Melih Gokcek is not a popular person with Ankaragucu supporters for various reason which I will not repeat. However, if this does happen then I believe it will be a step forward. After all, Cemal Aydin has shown by his actions over the years that he is quite happy for Ankaragucu to sit in mid-table in the league ! We, the supporters, are not !

Melih Gokcek has pledged `to put his money where his mouth is` and he wants to have a successful football team in the Capital City of Turkey just as much as we do.

What about the mechanics of the merger I can hear you ask ? For example, what about The Yenikent Stadium ? What colours will the new team wear ? Will there be a name change ? Will the team still play in The 19 Mayis Stadium ? etc etc.

We will have a `wait and see` period now. So, watch this space for further on this important subject.

All the best from Eski Kanka Jim

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Greetings Kankas and Kankies.

Some last minute transfers before the `transfer window` closed.

Going -

With the arrival of our Egyptian, Sherif Ekramy, from Feyenoord, the Club have released recent aquisition from Erciyes, Yusuf Soysal, and transferred him to Kayserispor. This obviously makes sense.

However, with Serkan is such good form recently I don't think Sherif will be making his debut soon. Time will tell.

Comings -

Anil Karaer (left winger) has arrived from Galatasaray. Don't know anything about him. Perhaps Gulay can add something ?

Another Brazilian has joined the squad. Chaves Leandro Rodrigues (midfield) from Rizespor. After last week's poor showing in the midfield area, this is a welcome addition.

The fight for places on the team sheet is on, and this can only be a positive step forward.

All the best from Eski Kanka Jim

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Oz Kanka reads a book

It may surprise some of you out there but I do sometimes read books other than the type of books I read to Little Oz Kanka at bedtime.

Last week I was lucky to get sent an advance copy of "The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime" by investigative reporter Declan Hill. It is a book I would certainly recommend to all the kankas.

Some of you may have seen the main news story that came out a few days before the book was published concerning allegations that Ghana threw its last 16 World Cup match against Brazil in 2006. Hill is certain that Asian gambling fixers paid Ghana players to ensure that Brazil won by at least two goals.

It is a complicated story which can be read here.

Whilst a team throwing a World Cup match is certainly big news (and a rollicking good story as well as Hill travels around the world, meeting fixers, runners, players, prostitutes) in many ways it is other sections of the book that are of real interest.

In addition to a look at how betting on football matches works, basically the real money is to be made on predicting the "goal spread" i.e. a bet that Brazil would beat Ghana by two goals would have netted a lot more money than a simple bet that Brazil will win, Hill goes into exactly how do you rig a match and then how the players on the field "lose" a match but still appear to be trying their best.

Using examples from around the world, including a failed attempt by Sedat Peker trying to rig a match with Akcabaat Sebatspor, Hill shows that fixing is widespread, not just in Asia but throughout Europe.

One topic which Hill talks about and which pops up from time-to-time here in Turkey is the situation where a team offers another team a "bonus payment" in order to "motivate" them to play well. These stories normally come out near the end of the season when two or more teams are chasing the title. It is at this stage when a mid-table team might not give a damn as relegation has been avoided, as has any hope of a European spot.

In order to motivate that team to play well against a challenger for the title, its rival challengers may offer bonuses. I always thought it was as straight as that - a motivation payment. Hill says that the main reason is not to motivate but to ensure that the team isn't got at and doesn't throw the match.

The Ghana-Brazil controversy that Hill writes about has dominated news of the book's release but my favourite line is something that Hill puts into the book for "the public's right to know" concerning a claim that Hill's Asian fixer contact had heard that Equador were to throw there match against England at World Cup 2008 by at least two goals. In the end England only won by one goal.

"...some of (fixer Chin's) associates had contacts with a few players on the Ecuadorian team who had arranged for them to lose to England. Yet the English team was so bad that they could not let them score a convincing goal."


You can order the book from here