Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fenerbahçe Starts Second Half with Confidence, Questions

Fenerbahçe Starts Second Half with Confidence, Questions
By Nathan L. Redd

As Fenerbahçe gets ready to kick off the second half of the Turkcell Super Lig later today, the club is riding a high boosted by European and Super Lig success to close out the first half. However, many questions remain for Fener's second half with injuries looming and an unsure transfer market still in doubt.

After struggling to start the season, Fener closed out the first half on a five-game winning streak, tying first place Sivasspor with 37 points for the lead. The Canaries will kick off the second half against promoted side Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyespor, who defeated Fener 2-0 to open the season back in August. Although the team has regained its top form, there are many questions surrounding the future of several players. Stephen Appiah, once considered a possible transfer out of Kadikoy, may remain with the club after suffering an injury that could sideline him until the summer. Mateja Kezman is also being evaluated by several English and German clubs, making him a possible transfer target out of Turkiye. One-time Fenerbahçe targets Ronaldo and Afonso Alves appear headed for other destinations, keeping Fener fans wondering if any new faces are coming to Kadikoy during the January transfer window.

Another issue possibly facing Fenerbahçe could be team focus, although Zico has done a tremendous job recently of keeping the team grounded. With vital UEFA Champions League matches against Sevilla coming up and the club's first-ever trip to the knockout round, it could be difficult for Fener to focus on 100% effort against teams like Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyespor. If the team does lose focus, their trip to UEFA Champions League could be a short one and they could find themselves back in the UEFA Cup next year. If Fenerbahçe plays against teams like Genclerbirligi OFTASSpor with the same vigor and effort they put forth against Inter Milan, an 18th Turkcell Super Lig championship could be on the table for them.

Fenerbahçe kicks off their second half campaign on Sunday at 19:00 (12 Noon EST in the U.S.) against Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyespor. The game is at Sukru Saracoglu Stadium in Kadikoy and is available online at www.digiturkwebtv.com for those living outside of Turkiye.

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