Greece Asking Fans For "Proper Behavior"
Courtesy of UEFA.com...
Greece's Theofanis Gekas has urged fans to be "committed but not aggressive" when the European champions host neighbours Turkey in Saturday's big match.
Games between the Aegean rivals are always fiercely contested but with the two sides level on points at the top of Group C, there could be added edge at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium this weekend. Striker Gekas wants the supporters to focus on providing a cauldron of noise. "We need the support of our fans for the whole 90 minutes," he told uefa.com. "We need them on our side, to be committed but not aggressive."
It is a sentiment shared by Turkey coach Fatih Terim, who is keen for his players to look upon the match as an exciting prospect rather than an issue of national pride. "If we do that, we will ease the pressure on our players," he said. The burden of expectation has been made heavier by the excellent starts both countries have enjoyed to their UEFA EURO 2008™ campaigns, with three wins apiece and no goals conceded. "We made a splendid start, but so did Turkey," said the 26-year-old Gekas, who is on loan at VfL Bochum 1848 from Panathinaikos FC. "So the team that wins on Saturday will have the upper hand in the race for top spot.
"It's a very difficult and decisive encounter for both sides. If we win, we will have 90 per cent secured our qualification for UEFA EURO 2008™. Turkey are a very competitive and experienced team and they play with passion. Greece and Turkey are very much alike and I believe Saturday's game will be very close."
Terim certainly hopes so. Turkey will be deprived of İbrahim Toraman, Arda Turan and Nihat Kahveci through injury, and a number of others are out of form, yet the coach is adamant that the Athens match is no damage-limitation exercise. "We can't get too hung up about out-of-form players because they might come good at international level," he said. "We have no intention of playing for a draw."
'Full of emotion'
The neighbours traded 0-0 draws in 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying, but - bearing Turkey's problems in mind - Gekas hopes Greece will settle this third competitive meeting more decisively. "We have nothing to gain if we play defensively, because we are at home and our aim is to win all our home games," he said. "If we score, they will have to open up and attack. The match will be spectacular, full of emotion."