Monday, January 07, 2008

Fortis Turkiye Cup Bore: Kayserispor 0 - 0 Fenerbahce


Fortis Turkiye Cup Bore: Kayserispor 0 - 0 Fenerbahce
By Ozgur R. Nazilli

Yet another weak performance was put forth by the Yellow Canaries today in the Fortis Turkiye Cup, when Fenerbahce faced Kayserispor for the second match of the group stages. As the score suggests, there was not much excitement going on in the match, and the only positive thing Fener came away with from the game was that none of the players suffered any injuries.

Kayseri has always been a tough opponent for Fenerbahce, as evidenced by the 2-1 defeat they suffered earlier this year at, again, the Kayseri home grounds. All the Anatolian teams put forth a special performance whenever they face the Big 3 of Istanbul, since all the players give their best to showcase themselves for the transfer period. As Kayseri is one of the strongest of the bunch, it was expected for Fenerbahce to have a tough time today. However, not many people expected such a weak display. Fenerbahce was falling apart everywhere on the pitch, and only the magnificent performance of Volkan Demirel kept the scoreline level.

Another problematic factor that possibly slowed down the gameplay was the weather condition. As also stated by the players after the game, the pitch was mostly frozen for the whole game, and when this was coupled with the -15 Degrees Celsius the players came to from the 20 Degrees Celsius of their training camp city Antalya, weather could easily be used as a mitigating factor of the poor performance. However, for a team that is aspiring to be a European giant, this definitely is not enough of an excuse. Players will travel all over Europe and face harsher conditions than they faced today in Kayseri in the years to come, both in the UEFA Cup and the Champions League. Will the frozen grass be an acceptable excuse then?

One lesson that was hopefully learned by the Board of Fenerbahce today was that this team definitely needs some transfers to support the current squad. As Zico has said earlier this week, the midfield is losing some valuable players this second half, since Tumer will be leaving the squad one way or another, and Appiah will at least be out with an injury for the next 6 months. Deniz and Alex are recovering from lesser injuries, but today we have seen how weak the midfield can be with the currently available players. Ugur Boral and Ali Bilgin are both hard working and talented players, but they are not ready to hold the midfield for as big a team as Fenerbahce yet. On top of that, today the brain of the team, Maestro Alex, was also unavailable, and we got the chance to (yet again) see how dull the football becomes without him to lead the flow of the game. The Board keeps denying every transfer rumor as soon as they start circulating, and holds some kind of a bizarre record in this area, with 24 denials for Ronaldo, 19 for Adriano, and 18 for Mehmet Topuz (Source: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/spor/futbol/7975039.asp?gid=211&sz=53744 ). Hopefully, these denials are just tactics to keep the prices of the players they are interested in going up, and Fenerbahce is, contrary to what they keep declaring on the official website, making some transfer negotiations behind the scenes. The only glimmer of hope in this area is that Fenerbahce had denied the transfer of Roberto Carlos 9 times, before it finally happened.

Fenerbahce was poor on the pitch today, that much is certain. However, this is after all the Turkish Cup and not many fans care about it too much. Also, there are two more games Fener is going to play, and they will most likely qualify out of the group stages by winning these last two against lower league teams. The possibility of Fenerbahce not qualifying to the next stage is not what is worrying from today's match. What worries the fans is the level of performance when Alex is missing from the team. The only serious difference between today's team and the "Ace" team of Fenerbahce was Alex, and that apparently was enough to pull down the quality of the performance down a couple of notches.
One cannot help but worry about the possibility of Alex suffering a serious injury and missing out a month or more...

If the Board does not act soon and bolster the midfield, and possibly also the strikers, of the team, Fenerbahce will have a seriously hard time of keeping up the success level of the first half. Our hope as the fans is that the remaining 25 days of the January transfer period will be used wisely and the team will be prepared, by the end of the month, for all but the most serious of the injury crises.

(Photo courtesy of Hurriyet.com.tr)

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