Monday, April 02, 2007

Fenerbahce Heads to Syria for Friendly


Fenerbahce travels to Syria today for a friendly match against the top team in Syrian futbol. Al Ittihad of Aleppo will be opening their new Olympic stadium on Tuesday and will play a friendly against Turkiye's top team to commemorate the opening. The game is scheduled for 19:45 local time Tuesday.

Fenerbahce last played in Syria in 1951 and won two games during their 3-game tour that year. This time, Fenerbahce will not only make the trip, but so will Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a throng of Fenerbahce fans. Fener, who has a strong fan base in Syria, is benefitting from several travel agencies and tour companies who have organized trips to see the Canaries play in the neighboring country. Erdogan, a Fenerbahce fan, also played semi-pro futbol for 16 years when he was younger. Additionally, some of members of Fenerbahce's team that played in Syria 56 years ago are also making the trip.

In addition to the trip being an effort of goodwill and diplomacy, Fener is attempting to strengthen their fan base in Syria and throughout the Middle East. The club has printed brochures in Arabic to hand out to fans at the stadium. Inside, the brochures also features stories on the players and a Fenerbahce poster. There is also a special message from Aziz Yildirim.

From a technical standpoint, Zico is expected to rest many of the starters and give other players an opportunity to gain some gameday experience on the pitch.

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