Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Ankaragucu secured their place in the next round of the Turkish Cup, but it was far from the kind of performance you would expect against a team sitting just outside the relegation zone in the 4th tier of Turkish football.
Team - Altay Bayindir, Erdem Sen, Bakary Kone, Mehmet Sak, Kaan Uykur, Anton Putsila, Ender Aygoren, Alessio Cerci, Mahmut Akan, Youness Mokhtar, Muhammed Kehinde,
Subs - Johannes Hopf, Furkan Belkovic, Mert Aydeniz, Sedat Agcay, Ricardo Faty, Burak Evren, Mahmut Altinkaya, Oguzhan Orhan
Ismail Kartal rang the changes from Sundays match with Fenerbahce giving all the first team players apart from Bakary Kone a rest. Due to the injuries to Yalcin Ayhan, Alihan Kubalas and Thomas Heurteaux it meant Kone was the only fit centre half.
There was an opportunity for certain players to put themselves in contention for the weekends match with Kayserispor. Sadly no one grabbed that opportunity apart from the two outfield youth products who were both excellent. Kaan Uykur and Ender Aygoren did themselves proud with their performances that will have delighted Ismail Kartal. Ender in particular put in a spirited performance and showed good quality on the ball. He was unlucky on a couple of occasions not to have put himself on the scoresheet.
The only goal of the game came from the penalty spot. Anton Putsilla saw his strike hit the hand of one of the Erbaas players in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped Cerci who fired the ball into the roof of the net to make it 1-0.
Youness Mokhtar played his first game since returning from injury and was disappointing in the first half. He started to come into the game more in the second half and will be pleased to be back in contention. Mahmut Akan was dreadful and i would be very surprised if we see him playing in the future.
Overall a poor performance but the team are through to the next round and it will be interesting to see who we get in the draw.
Darius Vassell returns to Ankara this weekend 8 years after he left the club under difficult circumstances in what he could be forgiven for never wanting to return to the city. The former England international made headlines when he signed for the club back in 2009. Over 3000 Ankaragucu fans turned up to Esenboga Airport to meet their new hero and ultimately their hospitality sealed the Englishman's signature.
After a promising start scoring on his debut, Vassell was in and out the team due to injury. Once fully fit the club had been taken over by Melih Gokcek and thats when things started to turn sour. Kicked out of his Rixos Hotel in the middle of the night due to the club not paying the bill, his wages not being paid and the Gokceks bringing in their own players, it signaled the end of his Ankaragucu career after only one season. Vassell scored 4 goals in 22 games for the club but is still a fans favorite due to his 100 percent effort on the pitch and his relationship with the fans.
Vassell has always spoke positively about the club and fans and Mehmet Yiginer agreed a deal to pay Vassell his owed wages a couple of years ago. He has stayed in touch with the fans through social media and has accepted their invitation as a guest for this weekends game against Kayserispor.
Im sure Darius will get an excellent ovation from the fans and will have a great stay back in the Capital city.
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Ankaragucu are back in Cup action tomorrow as they host 4th tier side Erbaaspor in what will be an opportunity for some of the fringe players to get some first team action. After their stunning win at Fenerbahce the team face a different type of test against an Erbaaspor team who will be coming to Ankara looking to cause an upset.
The priority for Ankaragucu this season is the Super Lig, staying up was the initial target, but now sitting 6th after 10 games you could be forgiven for dreaming about European football next season. That said, Ankaragucu have failed miserably in the Turkish Cup in recent years, but they have a good chance of progressing to the group stages this year. After that who knows how far the team can go and its also a realistic goal to win the Turkish Cup. Previous seasons have shown with the likes of Akhisar and Konyaspor that those who take it seriously have a great chance of silverware.
The likes of Kehinde, Mahmut Akan, Youness Mokhtar, Kaan Uykur, Altay Bayindir, Mert Aydeniz and Ilhan Parlak should all feature tomorrow which will allow some of the first team players to get some rest ahead of Sundays match with Kayserispor.
Erbaaspor have only won 1 of their first 9 games in Lig 3 and lost 1-0 at home against Nazilli at the weekend. In those 9 games they have only scored 5 goals which seems to be the main issue for the team as they have only conceded 9 goals from those games.
Despite Erbaaspor struggling at the foot of the 4th tier in Turkish Football, Ankaragucu will still need to show them respect and take the match seriously. That said, even with the team being made up of fringe players, Ankaragucu should have too much quality for Erbaaspor.
These are the type of games that give players the platform and go an show Ismail Kartal why they deserve a place in the first team. Youness Mokhtar and Kehinde will form a nice partnership up front with Ilhan while youth products such as Altay, Mert and Kaan are knocking on the door too. Since Ismail Kartal came to the club there hasnt been a youth player that has broke into the team and held down a regular place. Altay looks to have the best chance of making it, but he has two excellent goalkeepers in Hopf and Korcan ahead of him.
The game tomorrow will be played at Yenikent which will likely be empty as the game kicks off at 3pm when everyone is at School and Work. TV always comes before football fans unfortunately.
Monday, October 29, 2018
Greetings Kankas and Kankies.
Genclerbirligi took another giant stride on Saturday night in their quest to make a quick return to the Super League when they defeated their closest rivals.
Boluspor 0 GENCLERBIRLIGI 1
This victory puts Gencler 5 points ahead of Bolu at the top of the Championship League, with the others, Denizli and Gazisehir, a further 4 points behind Bolu.
The goal was scored in the 2nd half by Sessegnon, and new Coach, Erkan Sozeri, can feel extremely pleased with his players after 10 matches undefeated into this season.
Gencler will be at home next Monday 5 November KO 7pm to Giresun who sit in mid-table, so another opportunity to maintain ‘a gap’ to the chasing pack !
All the best from Eski Kanka Jim
Greetings Kankas and Kankies.
The doubters were mostly Fenerbahce supporters who still believe that they have a God-given right to win every match, especially at Kadikoy ! Also, hands-up, I was guilty of doubting Ankaragucu’s ability to replicate the form they showed against Malatya, and I had settled for a draw pre-match ! That’s a lesson learned, ie, take optimism pills the day prior to a match !!
With El-Kabir and Bifouma back for this match, the team looked full of attacking options and that’s what we got from this Ankaragucu team who now have the bit between their teeth ! Ismail Bey has instilled a winning mentality into the team and he is now firmly in control of the players and a fans hero figure.
Fenerbahce 1 ANKARAGUCU 3
A photo speaks volumes without words being necessary. Just a number .......THREE !!!
Team – Korcan, Erdem, Alihan, Yalcin, Pinto, Faty, Djedje, Kenan, El-Kabir, Bifouma and Kubilay.
Substitutes used – Kone, Sedat and Ilhan
Battle Damaged Kanka and I met-up at The Anasson Bar and it was a pleasant surprise to see that us Ankaragucu fans outnumbered the so-called Fener supporters (and I use that term loosely !!).
Fener started the match brightly enough and it took some saving tackles from Yalcin and Alihan to snuff out the early danger.
It took Ankaragucu 10 minutes to settle into the match and El-Kabir almost opened the scoring when a cut-back from the left was just sent behind him. He also had a few other chance as Ankaragucu pressed for the opener. One shot over, one straight at Harun in goal and a header also saved.
However, the break through finally came after 35 minutes play. A corner on the right was taken by Erdem to the far post. Kubilay headed down to the near post where Faty was lurking unmarked and he side footed it in with Harun still at the far post.
The whole complexion of the match changed then with Ankaragucu looking for No2 and continuing to attack. Then, just before the half time whistle with another Ankaragucu corner, there was a clash of heads when Alihan and Yalcin went for the same ball. Both had to be substituted and replaced by Kone and Sedat.
The 2nd half got underway with both teams attacking end-to-end.
Both Korcan and Harun made great saves when threatened, but the persistence of Ankaragucu finally paid off in the 70th minute. Djedje was put through in the box, but as he was about to shoot he was brought down by Sumani who received a Red Card for his efforts. The referee’s decision was questioned by a group of Fener players, but after consulting the TV Monitor the penalty stood.
Erdem took responsibility and sent his shot to the bottom left. Harun guessed the direction correctly but the shot was too powerful for him to hold.
5 minutes later and goal No3 arrived. An Ankaragucu break on the left by El-Kabir who lobbed the ball over Harun, who was too far off his line, and in.
At this point in the match the Fener crowd turned on their players and whistled jeers as Ankaragucu took total control of the match and were spraying the ball around with Fener looking dead and buried. It was a beautiful sight to see Ankaragucu taking the piss out of Fener !!!
El-Kabir was then rewarded with a rest as Ilhan came on for the last 10 minutes.
Into the final minutes and Fener received a consolation goal when Korcan made his only mistake of the match and spilled a shot which was forced in from the rebound.
An outstanding performance from Ankaragucu and if this attitude of never-say-die and playing attacking football continues, we can look forward to more of these positive reports.
The win moves Ankaragucu up into 5th position in the league and I think it’s only fair to say that the Europa Cup dream for next season is back on the menu !!!
Next Sunday Ankaragucu host 12th placed Kayseri at the early KO time of 1.30pm.
Bring it on !
All the best from Eski Kanka Jim
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Ismail Kartal returns to face his former club Fenerbahce on Sunday night as his Ankaragucu side look for all 3 points against the Istanbul team who are in desperate need of a win as they sit 1 place outside the relegation zone. Phillip Cocu hasn't had the best of starts with Fenerbahce with only 2 wins in his opening 9 games. Pressure is starting to mount on the Dutchman who said in his post match interview that he doesn't know why his team are not performing.
Ankaragucu boss, Ismail Kartal knows all to well the pressures of managing a club like Fenerbahce and will have some sympathy for Cocu, but he is going there for the 3 points which could ultimately see Cocu out of a job by Sunday night.
In his only season in charge of Fenerbahce, Kartal finished 2nd in the League, Turkish Cup runners up and won the Turkish Super Cup. Not the worst record for a manager, but with the players at his disposal the fans expected more and 2nd is never good enough for any Istanbul side. Ismail was disappointed not to be kept on as manager and has always maintained that at Fenerbahce, Eskisehirspor and Gaziantepspor he had so many obstacles in his way with financial problems at each club.
His time at Ankaragucu has been a huge success. Despite calls for his resignation after a slow start last season in the PTT Lig, Ismail Kartal has become a fans favourite. He won the PTT Lig in his first season, again despite the financial problems at the club. And this season he has continued that form taking Ankaragucu to 9th in the table. The team that played against Yeni Malatyaspor at the weekend had 8 players from last seasons PTT Lig squad on the pitch. Again he has had to put up with financial problems with players not being paid, injuries and even the pitch the team train on not being up to standard.
Thankfully the board have again stepped up and the players have now been paid and they invested 600,000 Euros in a new training pitch. Right from kick off on Sunday against Malatyaspor you could see the spring in the step of the players and the lift they had from off field issues being resolved. The players worked their socks off and although there is still a lot of work to be done in the attacking side of play, Ankaragucu are showing they have one of the best defensive set ups in the Super Lig.
Yalcin Ayhan and Alihan Kubalas have formed an outstanding partnership. They are both warriors who win every ball in the air and are very difficult to get past. Erdem and Pinto have been brilliant both defensively and going forward.
In the middle of the park Djedje and Faty have also formed an excellent partnership and if we can just find another midfielder with a creative spark that would compliment the other two. Anton Putsila could be that man but he is still struggling with a foot injury.
Alessio Cerci showed his quality at the weekend and hopefully will now get fitter as the weeks go by. Mokhtar is back from injury this weekend and Bifouma is available but needs to show more consistency if he wants to find his way back in the starting line up.
Fenerbahce have some talented players in Andre Ayew, Islam Slimani, Yassine Benzia and many others through their squad. Unfortunately for Cocu the team isn't performing anywhere near where its capable of. There is no doubting that this current squad isn't as good as previous Fenerbahce sides, but to have only won 2 of their opening 9 games isn't good enough and anything other than a win on Sunday could see Cocu out of a job.
More worryingly for Cocu is that they have only scored 5 goals in their 9 games and after another goalless draw with Sivasspor at the weekend he said that he doesn't know what the issue is. That wont fill the Fenerbahce board or fans with confidence.
We have a hard working full of confidence Ankaragucu side going to Istanbul against a Fenerbahce team low on confidence and not playing for their manager. Will it be a case of Ankaragucu putting in the final nail of the coffin, or can Fenerbahce kick start their season under the dutchman?
Monday, October 22, 2018
Greetings Kankas and Kankies.
After the abomination in Bursa 2 weeks ago, this was the Ankaragucu that we love. They were like terriers from the first whistle till the last. This is what we want and this was delivered last night. They have put down a marker and this type of performance must be maintained every week !
ANKARAGUCU 1 Malatya 0
Team – Korcan, Erdem, Yalcin, Alihan, Pinto, Faty, Djedje, Kenan, Ilhan, Cerci and Kubilay.
Substitutes used – Sedat, Kehinde and Mehmet
Battle Damaged Kanka Damon and I met-up at The Anasonn Bar and settled-down to watch what I thought would be a bridge too far for an Ankaragucu team missing 4 key players (Hopf, El Kabir, Mokhtar and Boufouma) but we were pleasantly surprised that Ankaragucu was in all out attacking mode from start to finish.
Ankaragucu almost went ahead in the 5th minute but an excellent double save from Farnolle thwarted what we thought was a certain goal.
However, we only had to wait one more minute for the goal to arrive. Ilhan was put through with a great pass, but the two defenders shadowing him forced him to near the right touchline where he turned and crossed. The ball was directed away from the intended target by a defender’s arm ! Loud protests followed by the Ankaragucu players when the referee waved play on, but play was stopped when the referee had a message in his earphone. A video replay was requested and he then correctly awarded a penalty.
Cerci stepped-up and swept the ball in to the centre of the goal with Farnolle diving to his right.
A great start by Ankaragucu, but Malatya was not for folding ! As the match progressed, they settled and the match became an end-to-end affair, but Korcan was only called into serious action once in the first half when he made a great save from a free kick.
At the other end, Kubilay had a chance when he collected a Cerci cross, but he was dispossessed before he could shoot.
Into the 2nd half and Ankaragucu started like they did at the beginning of the match and were really getting stuck-in. Ilhan and company were chasing everything that came their way, but Ilhan received a yellow card for being ‘over enthusiastic’ in a challenge !
Kubilay had another chance but his shot on goal was blocked when 3 defenders surrounded him !
Kenan and Cerci had shots on goal but one was just past the post, another too high and one saved.
Near the end of the match and Cerci and Kubilay were substituted by Sedat and Kehinde.
10 minutes to go and Malatya almost found the equaliser when a great shot hit the bar and went out with Korcan beaten.
2 minutes to go and Malatya was looking desperate and they almost scored from a corner but Korcan came to the rescue again.
In the 4th minute of time added-on Pinto broke up a dangerous attack when he brought down a player from behind. He then received a yellow for his efforts ! (Sometimes at this stage in a match these measures are necessary !!!).
So, a hard fought but deserved win for Ankaragucu with all the players giving their all. I’m tempted to single out Djedje (who worked his socks off in the ‘engine room’) and Cerci for a special mention, but as I said, the whole team deserve praise for their endeavours.
Damon made these comments at the end of the match ...........
Quote – An impressive performance in the first half, but we needed to put the sword in and kill the game off. We came far too close to gifting Malatya 2 points in the 2nd half. But, alls well that ends well. Expecting to see more of Cerci. Unquote.
The win sees Ankaragucu move into 9th position in the league, but only 3 points below the Europa Cup position ! I know we all decided that this was a season of consolidation, but we can dream a little ............. can’t we ??!!
Looking to next weekend’s match on Sunday KO 8.30pm, and Ankaragucu travel to play a team which is 4th bottom of the league and perhaps that ‘other team’ will be 3rd bottom when we have finished with them !!!
Let’s have a big performance Ankaragucu and make Ankara ‘smiles better’ !!!
All the best from Eski Kanka Jim
Sunday, October 21, 2018
Greetings Kankas and Kankies.
Headline nicked from The Hurriyet which roughly translates to ............ The Genclerbirligi Wind Stops !
That’s a bit harsh in my opinion since it’s the first points Gencler have dropped in the league this season. Also, they were playing a useful Adanaspor team who are never easy to break down.
Genclerbirligi 0 Adanaspor 0
Team – Hakan, Ahmet O, Arnason, Luccas, Alper, Selcuk, Yasin, Jailton, Sessegon, Ahmet I and Cifci
Sustitutes used – Matel and Mert
So, with Bolu winning away at Balikesir yesterday it is very tight at the top of the league with Gencler and Bolu looking like they are in for a long season of tit-for-tat.
However, Gencler have a chance to put s little bit of daylight between them when they travel to Bolu for a showdown meeting next weekend.
I’ll give a short summary of that match here, so keep watching this space.
All the best from Eski Kanka Jim
Friday, October 19, 2018
Back in the early 90s Genclerbirligi had a lot of success in signing African players such as Souleymane Youla, Geremi Nijtap, Andre Kona and John Moshoeu. Gencler would sign these young Africans for small fees on low salaries and then sell them on for a higher profit which allowed them to reinvest in the squad again.
Their city neighbors took notice of this successful signing policy and decided to look more to the African market than they previously had. Ankaragucu looked to Zaire a nation that is today known as the Democratic Republic of Congo and made famous by the drink Um Bongo, which strangely enough isn't anything to do with the Congo.
Bunene Ngaduane was a powerful and physical striker described as a unit who had scored 45 goals in 67 goals in the South African premier league with Qwa Qwa Stars. Patrick Kazadi was a midfielder signed from FS Stars also in the South African League.
The pick of the signings was the magical winger Ndayi Kalenga who the club signed from Amazulu another South African premier league side.
Both Kalenga and Kazadi signed for the club together, with Bunene signing up a year later. At first the trio struggled with the language barrier. So much so that Kalenga was sent off in one of the games against Fenerbahce after celebrating a goal in which he was yellow carded, Kalenga didn't understand what the referee was booking him for and continued to celebrate which led to a second yellow.
Kazedi struggled to make any impact at the club although he did play 23 games in his only season scoring 1 goal. Kalenga on the other hand made his mark with some impressive performances. His style of play excited the Ankaragucu fans as the fast and skillful winger dazzled his way past opposing defenders creating many chances and scoring goals.
Kalenga played 32 games scoring 12 goals in his first season and his most memorable moment was the 2-1 victory over Galatasaray at home. The Zaire winger scored both goals which made him a fans favorite with the Ankaragucu fans. Kalenga was also key in Ankaragucu staying in the Super Lig after a narrowly avoiding relegation.
Patrick Kazedi left the club at the end of the campaign after 1 season, but his fellow native Bunene Ngaduane joined the club to keep Kalenga company. Ankaragucu were hoping Bunene could achieve the same level of success as Kalenga had.
Bunene arrived with an excellent reputation from the South African league, he was the big physical striker that gave defenders nightmares. Kalenga continued to impress with another 10 goals in 33 games but Bunene failed to live up to his promise scoring only 6 goals in 29 games and leaving at the start of the following season.
Ankaragucu finished a more respectable 11th in the league in Kalengas second season as he became the key player for Ankaragucu. In his 3rd season Kalenga was still producing the goods along with 2 other foreign players. Peruvian forward Pablo Ambrosi and Australian Vlado Bosinovski. Six goals in 30 games was his least productive season but still a good account for a wide player in the top league of Turkish football.
After 3 excellent seasons with the club, N'Dayi Kalenga would move onto Altay for a new challenge in his career. Ankaragucu had a new influx of Africans including Ohene Kennedy, Fernand Coulibaly and Nii Lamptey who would be given the job of filling the void left by the brilliant man from Zaire.
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Ask any Ankaragucu fan the best foreign player to have played for the club, and there is a very good chance you will consistently get the same answer. Augustine Ahinful was the golden boy amongst the Ankaragucu support for the 6 years he spent with the club over 2 different spells in the early 2000s.
Having spent most of his career in Switzerland and Portugal, Augustine signed with Ankaragucu at the age of 26 and instantly showed his quality by doing what all good strikers do, putting the ball in the back of the net on a consistent basis.
Before Augustine arrived in the Turkish capital, there were 3 other Ghanaian players who were with the club. The troubled but hugely talented Nii Lamptey had a short spell at the club but things didn't work out for either party. Stephen Baidoo was a mainstay in the middle of the park and Ohene Kennedy another forward player and fans favorite who had the fans on the edge of their seat with his style of play.
Although Augustine, Baidoo and Kennedy wouldnt play in the same team due to Baidoo moving to Samsunspor when Augustine arrived, the trio would make their mark at Ankaragucu and go down in history as 3 of the top foreign players to play for the club.
Baidoo was a big strong typical african midfielder who was also comfortable on the ball, he spent 7 years at the club playing over 100 games and scoring 40 goals.
Onene was a skillful wide player who created a lot of goals particularly for his fellow countryman Augustine. He would play 106 games for the club scoring 38 goals and also become a favorite.
Before the signing of Augustine, Ankaragucu were a mid table club with the odd battle against relegation. Powerful, fast, skillful and an eye for goal, Augustine fired Ankaragucu into 4th and a place in Europe where they would come up against Atletico Madrid. In his first 2 full seasons Augustine would score 20 goals and 17 goals respectively for unfashionable Ankaragucu.
His performances didn't go unnoticed as Turkish giants Trabzonspor signed him on a free transfer much to the disappointment of the Ankaragucu support. Big things were expected from Augustine who had joined one of Turkeys biggest clubs at the peak of his career. The move would however turn out to be one of disappointment as Augustine was plagued with injuries during his 2 year stay at the club and failed to become a regular in the starting line up.
A move back to Ankaragucu for a second spell at the club was confirmed 2 years later with the Ankaragucu support hoping that their hero could recapture some of that previous form. Unfortunately for both Ankaragucu and Augustine his second spell was inconsistent as he continued to pick up injuries and never found that same form from his first spell.
Their are many great moments from Augustines Ankaragucu career but the most memorable one is his goal away at Besiktas where he beat his man on the half way line and then from 45 yards lobbed Thomas Myhre in the Besiktas goal. A goal like that against your main rivals is always going to go down well with the fans.
Baidoo and Kennedy will always be well thought of by the Ankaragucu fans, but Augustine was special. He was a fantastic talent who should have succeeded at a higher level had it not been for injuries. That said, he had an excellent career especially in Ankara and will be forever remembered as the best foreign player to play for the club.
Greetings Kankas and Kankies.
All readers of The Round Ball in Ankara send our congratulations to our two Webmasters, Oz Kanka Chris and Bellshill Kanka Nadeem for the latest modification to our website.
Chris and Nadeem decided that a new modification was needed to the layout due to the fact that the previous modification was outdated and untidy.
This is progress – onwards and upwards .......... just like Ankaragucu and Genclerbirligi !!!
One of the new features is that there are new icons at the top and right hand side when you enter which gives an easier access to whichever area of the site you want to visit.
Please feel free to check it out and make any observations in the comments section.
Thanks again to our Webmasters and keep watching this space for regular updates on Ankaragucu and Genclerbirligi matches and news.
All the best from Eski Kanka Jim
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Every club in football knows the value of a good striker who can consistently put the ball in the back of the net. Clubs across Europe are paying ridiculous amounts of money for that player who they believe can either be the difference between winning the League and coming second, and at the other end surviving or relegation.
Most clubs go through striker after striker before they find that gem, and then after maybe 1 season of finding the back of the net, one of Europes elite comes calling and the search begins all over again.
In 1990 we had arguably the best World Cup ever in Italia 90 with some phenominal strikers such as Gary Linekar, Jurgen Klinsmann, Rudi Voller, Marco Van Basten, Roger Milla, Romario, Claudio Caniggia, Gabriel Battistuta, Roberto Baggio, and the list goes on. Even back then Strikers were worth their weight in gold.
At this period a young Bosnian striker was raising eyebrows in the Turkish Super Lig with Adanaspor. In his first season he scored 19 goals which earned him a move to Ankaragucu and he didn't disappoint.
Samet Aybaba brought Sabotic to the club and he got off to a fantastic start scoring his first goal in the Turkish Cup against Aydinspor in a 4-0 win. On his Home league debut he scored against his former side Adanaspor and by then the Ankaragucu fans knew they had a quality striker in their team.
Another goal in his first derby match against Genclerbirligi was followed up by a brilliant team goal against Besiktas in a 2-2 draw. Sinan Engin his Ankaragucu team mate however scored the goal of the game with a 30 yard screamer into the top corner in front of a sold out Ankaragucu crowd.
Sabotic scored another memorable double at Genclerbirligi and another double in a 3-3 thriller with Fenerbahce.
By the time his 3 year spell had come to a surprise end, he signed for FK Sutjeska Niksic having scored 46 goals in 85 games for Ankaragucu, he had adhered himself to the Ankaragucu fans as one of their favorite sons.
If you go back and watch videos of Ankaragucu games on youtube or daily motion between 1990-1993 you will see both Sabotic and Sinan and the quality they added to the team. Sabotic had fantastic technique and ability, but his finishing was his top quality, scoring goals from all distances and angles and having the ability to make space for himself.
Surprisingly you wont find many articles on his time in Turkish football or even hear him mentioned by the Ankaragucu fans. Hopefully this article will raise a few memories of our older Ankaragucu fans who can share their stories. Having a player of Sabotic talent today would cost millions of pounds.
Despite having two top quality players in Sead Sabotic and Sinan Engin, Ankaragucu finished 7th and 8th in the 3 seasons the Bosnian striker played for the club. Results were at times excellent, beating and drawing with the Istanbul teams, to just awful where they would lose 7-0 and 8-0 on a couple of occasions.
The Bosnian did return to Turkey with spells with Polatlispor and Bayrampasa before he retired, but his time at Ankaragucu was the most successful of his career.
Moestafa El Kabir rolled into Ankara overweight and his career in Turkish football in question due to his condition and shape that looked more at home as a Sumo wrestler than a professional footballer. Many Ankaragucu fans questioned the signing and he was the subject to many negative posts and jokes on social media.
Although born in Morocco, El Kabir has spent most of his life in Holland, starting his footballing career with spells at both Dutch giants Ajax and Feyenoord. Talent has never been in question for the flamboyant and likeable North African, but even from a young age his off field problems and disciplinary has held him back.
After leaving NEC due to disciplinary problems he made his move to Mjallby in Sweden where he showed his quality with 16 goals in 38 games. His impressive performances earned him a loan move to Cagliari in Italy but injury problems saw him score only 1 goal in his 7 games with the Sardinians who decided against taking up the option of a permanent deal.
Another successful spell in Sweden where he scored 19 goals in 32 games for Hacken saw him win a lucrative move to Al Ahli before Turkish Super Lig side Genclerbirlig signed him on a free transfer. Gencler were fighting against relegation but the signing of El Kabir lifted everyone at the club and his impressive performances and work rate played a huge part in the team avoiding relegation. El Kabir scored 9 goals and earned himself as a favorite amongst the Gencler fans. Surprisingly El Kabir decided against staying in Turkey and instead made the move to Japan at the end of the season.
After a disappointing spell in Japan, El Kabir moved back to Turkey with Antalyaspor. This time he showed flashes of his form at Gencler, but never reached the same levels and was out of shape and over weight.
Antalyaspor terminated the Moroccans contract and it looked unlikely that he would return to Turkey. Ismail Kartal however had other ideas and decided to sign El Kabir as his main striker for the 2018/19 campaign.
Since day 1, El Kabir has acknowledged that he needs to lose weight and get back in shape. He has worked extremely hard and lost a lot of that initial excess weight and looks closer to being in the shape suitable for a professional footballer.
A goal on his debut against Galatasaray and the winning goal in a 1-0 win over Akhisar are his 2 league goals to date in 7 games. However its his all round play that has impressed the Ankaragucu fans. Despite his 5ft 8 Height which makes it difficult playing as the lone striker, its his Work Rate, technique, skill and hold up play that plays a crucial part in the way Ankaragucu play.
You just have to look at the Bursaspor game as an example. This was the worst performance of the season from Ankaragucu and it coincided with El Kabir missing the match due to injury. There was no one there for Ankaragucu to hold up play, or even run in behind as El Kabir can do both.
Thankfully El Kabir is back in training and should be available for selection this weekend against Yeni Malatyaspor. At the age of 30, the little magician has reached his peak, but it would be interesting to see the level he could reach if he can get into peak fitness. He still has a long way to go but has worked hard to get to this stage. Another half stone of weight could be the difference in playing a key part in survival for Ankaragucu in the Super Lig.
Monday, October 15, 2018
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
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.
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 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
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
THE ANKARAGUCU KANKAS GO ON A ‘WORLD TOUR’ TO ............ BURSA !
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 !!!
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 !!!