Sunday, October 29, 2006

Deivid Slays the Giants: Fenerbahce Wins 3-2

The 2005-2006 season was marked with Fenerbahce faltering in moments of pressure. If Sunday's match was any indication, this season represents a new day. In the biggest game of the season thus far, Fenerbahce took down first-place Vestel Manisaspor 3-2 on the road. Deivid de Souza proved to the Canary fans why Aziz Yildirim found him so valuable, kicking in all three Fener goals for a hat trick.

The game was shadowed with questions early, as Fener was without goal-scoring machine Mateja Kezman as well as Mehmet Yozgatli. Manisaspor, led by former Turkiye manager Ersun Yanal, was without their leading scorer, Rafael Marques.

Deivid put Fenerbahce on the boards first with a goal at the 19 minute mark. Five minutes later, Holosko scored the equalizer for Manisaspor to kill the Fener momentum. At the 39 minute mark, Deivid found the back of the net again to give Fener a vital 2-1 lead heading into the break. Ten minutes after the game resumed, Deivid again scored to put Fener up 3-1. The Canary defense would allow one more goal at the 86th minute to Burak, but the defense and GK Volkan Demirel held steady to preserve the 3-2 win.

The win not only catapults Fenerbahce into first place, but it also drops Vestel Manisspor down to second due to goal differential. Both teams are actually tied with 23 points each.

Fener's renewed confidence after Zico's side re-arrangement continues as we are beginning to see a new team, one possibly living up to its potential. Fener will need everything they have as the brutal November stretch of games is right around the corner.

More to come on this game and the next opponent soon...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Ulusoy, Galatasaray's Biggest Fan, Goes on Trial

Galatasaray's biggest fan, TFF President Haluk Ulusoy is set to go on trial accused of misusing funds, state-run news agency Anatolian said on Thursday. He will be joined by several other top officials from the Turkish Football Federation, including former deputy chairmen Ata Aksu and Orhan Saka and former financial coordinator Haldun Kozakoglu.

In the indictment, the men are accused of "spent for their own and others' benefit ... institutional funds they handed to themselves". If convicted, they could serve prison terms of between one year and nine months to 11 years and three months.

The Turkish Football Federation declined to comment. No date has been set yet for the trial.

There is a nice article on today about Vestel Manisaspor's rise to the top of the Super Lig and good references to Fenerbahce. We rarely get any coverage from the American or English media outlets, so I was happy to see an article. Here is the link:

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Not Pretty, But Enough: Fenerbahce Wins 2-0

Fenerbahce's winning ways continued on Thursday in the Turkish Fortis Cup with a 2-0 victory over Gaziantepspor. The game was scoreless until the 80th minute, when Deivid de Souza found the back of the net to put the Canaries up 1-0. Eight minutes later, Semih scored for Fenerbahce after coming in as a reserve in the 72nd minute, giving the final result of 2-0.

Zico wisely rested many of the Fener starters, going with Volkan Demirel in goal rather than Rustu Recber. Volkan was impressive in preserving the clean sheet for Fenerbahce.

Fenerbahce now turns its attention to this weekend's huge matchup vs. first-place Vestel Manisaspor.

Fenerbahce, Gaziantepspor Underway in Turkish Fortis Cup

Fenerbahce and Gaziantepspor are underway now at Sukru Saracoglu in Kadikoy is Turkish Fortis Cup (Turkiye Kupasi) action. Fener's starting eleven are:

Volkan, Tümer, Kerim, Önder, Deniz, Uğur, Kemal, Olcan, Lugano, Edu, Deivid

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fenerbahce's Golden Opportunity

"It wasn't supposed to be like this." That could echo the sentiments shared by many Fenerbahce fans less than ten weeks into the new season. Most fans expected that Fener would be the reigning Turkcell Super Lig champions, sporting the Turkish flag on their shirts this season. By this point, we'd be well into the UEFA Champions League playing the best teams in Europe. But it was not meant to be. Fenerbahce fell apart at the last minute last season, handing the championship to Galatasaray. Champions League qualifying didn't go as planned, and here we are in the "runner-up" UEFA Cup. Christoph Daum is out, Zico is in. Team cancer Nicolas Anelka is gone. Marcio Nobre is gone. Mateja Kezman, Diego Lugano, Deivid de Souza, and Edu Dracena are in.

The young season has been full of ups and downs already. A season-opening 6-0 win over Kayseri Erciyesspor fueled the hopes of a renewed side. A 1-0 loss to Bursaspor seven weeks later tempered them. A disappointment in Champions League qualifying to Dynamo Kiev nearly killed them. But something happened along the way. Zico, the much-maligned Brazilian manager, forgot that he was maybe coaching for his job and re-arranged his line-up to coach to win. Against Newcastle United in the UEFA Cup, Zico moved Mateja Kezman up as the lone striker. He gave more playing time to Onder Turaci and Mehmet Yozgatli. He saw substantial improvement in Edu Dracena and Diego Lugano. Zico also realized that Tuncay Sanli might be not only the best Turkish player in the Super Lig, but one of the best players overall in the Super Lig. The re-arranging worked. Fenerbahce committed a vital mistake late in the game when Rustu Recber couldn't hang on to the ball on a save and Newcastle put the ball in the back of the net. Fenerbahce lost 1-0. But this didn't feel like a loss. After weeks of under-performing, Fenerbahce got something back: their confidence. They knew they could beat the English side. They knew they should have beaten the English side. Most importantly, they realized this was just the first game; they aren't eliminated yet. And they realized that their momentum would be ruined if they came back to Kadikoy and under-performed against a good Kayserispor side.

On Sunday, Fenerbahce returned to the Turkcell Super Lig against Kayserispor. The momentum they brought home from England grew larger. Mehmet Yozgatli played like a star, putting Fener up 1-0. Mateja Kezman played like the striker Chelsea went after, putting Fener up 2-0. Fener gave up a goal cutting the lead in half, but that is where one can separate good teams from average teams. Average teams wilt and panic. Good teams put the game away. In came Alex de Souza, his wife giving birth to their second child over the weekend. Gol - 3-1 Fenerbahce. Gol - 4-1 Fenerbahce. This team meant business.

Along the way, there have been other surprises in the Super Lig. Besiktas, who many picked to win the league, sits in third. Galatasaray, the defending champion, can't even see first place from their spot. And Vestel Manisaspor, a team that no sane person picked, is sitting in first place......undefeated. All the while, Fener has been hanging out in second place, waiting for their chance. Finally, Vestel lost their first game last weekend, right before Fener's 4-1 victory. Suddenly the first place spot is only three points away, and look who is on the schedule this weekend - Vestel Manisaspor.

The season hasn't gone as anyone planned so far, but Fener has a golden opportunity this weekend. Knock off Vestel Manisaspor, in their home stadium, and move into first place. It's a monumental task; a job that to succeed in, Fener needs a great striker. Mateja Kezman - check. Fener needs a great goalkeeper. Rustu Recber - check. Fener needs a strengthened defense. Diego Lugano and Edu Dracena - check. Most importantly, Fener needs the confidence of knowing they can succeed and reclaim the throne in the Turkcell Super Lig - double check.

Fenerbahce: Europe's Club of Mystery?

There is a great article posted in the Korean news website OhMyNews about Fenerbahce's image in Europe and our future. The article is in English. You can read it here:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New Game, New Team? Fenerbahce Devours Kayserispor 4-1

Fenerbahce rebounded from the tough loss to Newcastle in the UEFA Cup for a great win over Kayserispor on Sunday. Fener got two goals from new baba Alex de Souza, as well as Mehmet Yozgatli and Mateja Kezman. Yozgatli scored the game's first goal, then assisted Kezman for the second. Kayserispor got a lone goal from Parlak to make it 2-1, but Alex put the game away in the second half with two goals.

Zico has gone with an evolving lineup for the last two games, positioning Mateja Kezman as the lone striker up front. Sunday, he also sat Mehmet Aurelio and Umit Ozat. Ugur Boral and Deniz Baris took their place in the starting eleven.

Fenerbahce got their confidence back just in time, as this weekend's game will be the biggest of the season thus far. Fenerbahce travels to Manisa to take on first place Vestel Manisaspor in the battle of #1 vs. #2. Manisaspor lost their first game of the season last weekend, allowing Fenerbahce to move only three points behind them for second place.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Newcastle Scores Late, Wins 1-0

English side Newcastle United defeated Fenerbahce Thursday evening 1-0 at St. James Park in England. The game was scoreless for most of the match, until Newcastle's Antoine Sibierski scored in the 79th minute to give the English team all they would need. Once again, Fenerbahce fell disappointingly in European play. This game could be classified as even more disappointing considering that Fenerbahce had a chance to win. Despite having great offensive firepower, Fenerbahce again couldn't get anything going.

The loss sends Fenerbahce back to Istanbul to prepare for this weekend's match against Kayserispor, and brings more questions regarding the future of Canaries' manager Zico.

Starting Eleven

The game has kicked off in England. Fenerbahce has gone with the following starting eleven:

Rüştü, Ümit, Appiah, Mehmet, Tuncay, Aurelio, Önder, Kezman, Alex, Lugano, Edu

Fenerbahce Trains in England; Everyone Healthy

Fenerbahce had a lengthy training session at St. James Park in England on Wednesday. Afterwards, Zico commented that everyone was healthy and ready to go, with the exception of Zengin who did not make the trip.

Zico's changes: Turaci to replace Zengin

Fenerbahce manager Zico has confirmed that Kerim Zengin did not make the trip to England and he will be replaced at right back by Onder Turaci. This move was made to hopefully strenghthen the Canaries' defense after giving up a two-goal lead to Ankaraspor last weekend.

The following players will be available for Fenerbahce Thursday night:


Gameday in England

Today is the day..........Fenerbahce takes on English side Newcastle United at 3 PM EST in England. Fener manager Zico is confident of his team's chances today at St. James Park, but he also realizes that the blame for Fener's slow start is placed solely on him. “I am responsible of everything about this team, I am the one to blame about unexpected results and performance we have experienced recently.”

Zico has also downplayed the magnitude of today's game. "It is a very important game, but it is definitely not the most difficult game in the group. Every game is difficult. It is an important game for Fenerbahce, but it is not the decisive game in the group. You can never predict how games are going to go in the league or in the cup. We have not started very well and Newcastle have not started well either. I would have hoped to start a little better, but every game is different."

Zico also discussed how important home-field advantage is and how Newcastle can use the St. James Park crowd tonight. "In the UEFA Cup, the home team has always got the advantage and is predicted to win. It is a great advantage to play at home, so I would say Newcastle are favourites. I do not want to mention any particular player, but Newcastle gave got a great pedigree and great talent in their squad, and I prefer to say the whole team is a threat rather than any individual player. The UEFA Cup is not the Champions League. In the Champions League, you have more favourites to win. Here, the teams are more equal and every team has got a chance."

One player who knows Newcastle well is Fenerbahce striker Mateja Kezman. Kezman played for English rivals Chelsea and has scored on Newcastle in the past.

Grzegorz Gilewski from Poland will be the referee for today's match. Maciej Wierzbowski and Rafał Rostkowski will be assisting him.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sukru Saracoglu to Host UEFA Cup Final in 2009!

Fenerbahce and Istanbul have proudly been selected by UEFA to host the 2008-2009 UEFA Cup Final at Sukru Saracoglu.

Fenerbahce beat out a number of other bidders for the prize. The 2007-2008 UEFA Cup Final was awarded to Manchester City in England. Aziz Yildirim and the Fener administration began renovating and improving the stadium in 1999 to host major European events such as these. They hope that the UEFA Cup Final is the first of many major Euro events to be held in Kadikoy.

Turkish Fortis Cup Draw

Fenerbahce will face off against Gaziantepspor in their first Turkish Fortis Cup game, according to Wednesday's draw. Fenerbahce landed in Group C, along with Sivasspor, Gaziantepspor, Inegolspor, and Istanbul BSB. October 25th will be the first game of the pairings. Fener will host Gaziantep at Sukru Saracoglu in Kadikoy.

The full group listing is as follows:

Group A:
Kayseri Erciyesspor

Group B:
Vestel Manisa

Group C:
İstanbul BB

Group D:

Is Pini Balili in Fenerbahce's Future?

Sivasspor's outspoken striker has been quoted as saying he would love to play for Fenerbahce in the future, according to Balili, an Israeli national, is reportedly very unhappy in Sivas and desires to play for "one of the big clubs" in Turkiye. He has reportedly said that Fenerbahce has expressed interest in him and he would move to Fenerbahce "if Zico sticks around." However, Fenerbahce isn't likely interested unless Balili gains Turkish citizenship. Balili has tremendous skill at the striker position, but probably not enough for Fenerbahce to sign him as one of their six foreign players.

Balili's agent claims "Balili's contract with Sivasspor expires at the end of the season, so this season determines whether he will move on to a big club or stay here. If Fenerbahce, which changes coaches all the time, sticks with Zico, then Balili has a good chance of signing there."

Stay tuned to see if Balili's claims are credible or he is just expressing his desires...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

UEFA Cup Drawn; Fener has Tough Group

At Tuesday's UEFA Cup Drawing in Switzerland, Fenerbahce landed in arguably one of the toughest groups. Fener will face some of the finest non-Champions League competition in all of Europe. The drawing sent Fenerbahce into Group H, along with Newcastle United of England, Palermo from Italy, Celta de Vigo from Spain, and Eintracht Frankfurt from Germany.

The top three teams from each group will qualify for the next round. The dates and fixtures for Fenerbahce's Group H are as follows:

Thursday 19 October
Newcasttle - Fenerbahçe

Thursday 23 November
Fenerbahçe - Palermo

Thursday 30 November
Celta de Vigo - Fenerbahçe

Thursday 13 December
Fenerbahçe - E.Frankfurt

Monday, October 02, 2006

Terim Names 24-Man Turkish National Side

Fatih Terim recently named his 24-man Turkish national side for upcoming games against Hungary and Moldova. The Moldova match will be played in Frankfurt, Germany, as part of Turkiye's punishment of three home matches behind closed doors issued by FIFA.

Among the 24-man squad, Fenerbahce was represented well. The following Fener players were selected:

Goalkeepers: Rustu Recber, Volkan Demirel
Defensemen: Can Arat
Midfielders: Mehmet Aurelio, Tumer Metin
Forwards: Tuncay Sanli

The full side, with pro teams, is:

Goalkeepers: Rustu Recber (Fenerbahce), Volkan Demirel (Fenerbahce), Ozden Ongun (Konyaspor)

Defenders: Can Arat (Fenerbahce), Orhan Ak (Galatasaray), Gokhan Zan (Besiktas), Ibrahim Toraman (Besiktas), Ibrahim Uzulmez (Besiktas), Servet Cetin (Sivasspor)

Midfielders: Mehmet Aurelio (Fenerbahce), Tumer Metin (Fenerbahce), Arda Turan (Galatasaray), Sabri Sarioglu (Galatasaray), Hamit Altintop (Schalke 04), Mehmet Topuz (Kayserispor), Gokdeniz Karadeniz (Trabzonspor), Huseyin Cimsir (Trabzonspor), Nuri Sahin (Borussia Dortmund)

Forwards: Tuncay Sanli (Fenerbahce), Hakan Sukur (Galatasaray), Umit Karan (Galatasaray), Nihat Kahveci (Villarreal), Fatih Tekke (Zenit St Petersburg), Halil Altintop (Schalke 04)

Fenerbahce Falls 1-0 to Bursaspor

A promising, 3-0 win and confidence-builder over Randers in the UEFA Cup was squandered on Sunday as Fenerbahce fell to lowly Bursaspor 1-0. Fener allowed a goal from Bursa's Sinan Kaloglu in the 16th minute and it was all that Bursa would need.

The Fener eleven looked lost and passive at times, failing to attack Bursa for an equalizer. The loss to eight-place Bursa puts Zico back on the hotseat as Fenerbahce fans and Turkish media are growing restless once again. The loss also puts Fener a full four points back of first place Vestel Manisaspor and only three points ahead of third place (tie) Besiktas and Kayserispor. Vestel picked up a 1-0 win over the weekend to stay atop the Turkcell Super Lig.

Edu received the lone Fenerbahce card in this game. Fener must now turn its attention to B.B. Ankaraspor and get ready to travel to Ankara for the game. Zico must now find a way to unleash the offense that was expected when the new transfers were signed.