Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fenerbahce Looking to Regain Confidence in Kadikoy

This season was supposed to be a special season for Canary fans. 2007 marks the club's 100th year in existence, and lots of new talent was brought in to boost Fenerbahce to European success, a 17th Super Lig title, a Fortis Turkish Cup Championship and more. However, 2007 hasn't gone quite as planned. Fener failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League and advanced past the group stage of the UEFA Cup, but could not get past AZ Alkmaar to achieve their dream of winning the cup. While Fenerbahce currently sits in first place in the Turkcell Super Lig, the players are feeling the pressure put on them by fans, the Turkish media, and the club's board. High-priced talent hasn't produced as many goals as hoped for, and the jury is still out on the performance of first year manager Zico. Players like Deivid de Souza and Edu Dracena haven't made the impact the club hoped for, and Diego Lugano, Tuncay Sanli, and Stephen Appiah have been linked to other European clubs during the upcoming offseason. Add in that many of the contracts of Fener's players expire at the end of this season, and there is plenty on the minds of Fenerbahce fans these days.
It's been a staggering 24 years since Fenerbahce last won the Fortis Turkish Cup; an astounding stat considering Fener is the largest and most powerful club in Turkiye. The last two years have brought heartache in the cup's final game, with losses to arch-rivals Besiktas and Galatasaray. Now Fenerbahce finds themselves in a hole, but not one they can't dig out of. They go into Thursday's game with a 1-0 aggregate deficit, but they know they will be playing before the largest and most vocal home crowd in Turkish futbol. The Canaries haven't been playing spectacular futbol, but many of the club's goals are still intact. They can still win the Fortis Turkish Cup. They can still win the Turkcell Super Lig, qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. Even more, Fenerbahce's destiny is in their own hands when it comes to winning the Super Lig. Up by only four points with five games left, the team has one simple motto: just win. Win the final five games, and they cruise into a 17th championship and UEFA Champions League. However, that goal is easier said than done. Those final five games are against the league's best: at home vs. Denizlispor, a team fighting to avoid relegation. Then the game everyone has been talking about: Fener vs. Besiktas at Inonu Stadium. This game could decide the title all by itself. Fener then returns home to take on the always-dangerous Trabzonspor, before going across the Bosphorous to play Galatasaray in the world's biggest derby. They wrap up the season in Kadikoy on May 26 vs. Ankaragucu. Five games left....four points up, but the road is difficult.
Fenerbahce still has a chance to meet many of their goals, and the first task starts Thursday in Kadikoy. Kickoff is at 20:00 (1 PM EST in the U.S.).


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