Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Fortis Turkish Cup Resumes

The Fortis Turkish Cup resumes this week, and already a flurry of upsets have thrilled fans across Turkiye. On Tuesday, Galatasaray was eliminated from the cup following a 1-1 draw vs. Kayseri Erciyesspor. Earlier today, Besiktas fell 2-0 to Vestel Manisaspor and Gaziantepspor and Trabzonspor finished in a 1-1 draw.
Fenerbahce will resume Fortis Turkish Cup play tomorrow vs. Genclerbirligi in Ankara. Kickoff is set for 20:00 (1:00 PM EST in the U.S.). Fener will look to get back to good form after a disappointing start to the second half of the Super Lig season and elimination from the UEFA Cup.

TFF Refusing To Pay for Rustu Recber's Wages

The Turkish Futbol Federation on Monday evening rejected Fenerbahce's claim to have the TFF pay for injured goalkeeper Rustu Recber's wages. The claim was made after Rustu ruptured a knee ligament in the Turkiye vs. Italy friendly on November 15th. Rustu is expected to be out until at least the end of April.

The TFF board announced its decision after its meeting in Trabzon. The Fenerbahce board said in a written statement that they would appeal to the Arbitration Board as soon as they receive the reasoning behind the decision of the TFF.

Fenerbahce had asked the TFF to pay Rustu's wages during the time that he would be out due to the fact that he was injured during a national match, not while playing for the club. Fenerbahce Vice Chairman Şekip Mosturoğlu said at the time, “We asked the TFF to pay Rüştü's wages as stated in his contract for the period he will not be able to play for Fenerbahçe. We have a right to do that. As I recall, Galatasaray did the same when Hakan Ünsal was injured in a national match.”

It was not the first time a club has made this type of request. Last summer, Belgian first division side Charleroi brought a case against FIFA for 616,000 Euro because one of its players, Abdelmajid Oulmers, returned injured from an international friendly for Morocco in November 2004. Oulmers was unable to play for his side for more than 200 days, and Charleroi argued that his absence from the pitch affected its final league and cup standings. The case pitched FIFA against the G14 group of 18 major European clubs, which threw its support behind Charleroi. However last week the G14 group hinted it might drop its complaint to the European Court of Justice in connection with the affair. G14 official Thomas Kurth told Sport-Bild magazine that if UEFA President Michel Platini and FIFA boss Joseph Blatter “proposed an acceptable solution by the end of the season, there is a theoretical possibility that the G14 and Charleroi would withdraw their complaint.”

G14 are pushing for players on international duty to be insured, that clubs earn part of the profits from European championship and World Cup finals and places on both the UEFA and FIFA executive committees.

A similar claim could easily be made by Fenerbahce this season. Fener currently sits six points atop the Turkcell Super Lig, despite the unspectacular play by reserve goalkeeper Volkan Demirel. Fenerbahce has lost only four games this season, but it could easily be argued that a healthy Rustu Recber would have prevented at least two, if not three of those losses in league play.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Turkcell Super Lig Standings (26.02.07)

Link to the updated Turkcell Super Lig standings following this past weekend's games:

Offensive Offense: Fenerbahce Falls 1-0 to Antalya

Call it fatigue, call it lack of creativity. Just don't call it good futbol. Fenerbahce had a grand opportunity to move nine points up in the Turkcell Super Lig over the weekend, but instead laid an egg in Antalya and fell 1-0. Despite having the most prolific scorers in Turkiye in Mateja Kezman, Tuncay Sanli, Semih Senturk, and Alex de Souza, Fenerbahce has now scored a grand total of two goals over the last three league games and half of their season total losses of four have come in the last two weeks.

Zico was worried about his team's stamina coming into the game following the draining 2-2 draw (and elimination) vs. AZ Alkmaar in Holland in the UEFA Cup. However, Fener has more concerns than just fatigue with only 12 Super Lig games remaining. Despite only losing by one goal, it seemed as if Fener was never in this game. Only twice was Antalyaspor goalkeeper Oscar Cordoba challenged, looking as if he could have pulled up a chair and taken a nap in goal during much of the game.

Even more disappointing was the fact the rivals Galatasaray and Besiktas both lost prior to Sunday's game, meaning that a win would have catapulted Fenerbahce nine points up in the Turkcell Super Lig standings with only 12 games remaining. Fenerbahce knew of the golden opportunity headed into Sunday's game, but instead rewarded the fans with unimaginative, uncreative, and unproductive futbol. Fener may find themselves disappointed after being eliminated from Euro competition, but there is only one way to fix that: win the Turkcell Super Lig and get back to Champions League next year. With the way that Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, and Besiktas are all playing, it appears that none of them are interested in getting to Champions League next season. With Kayserispor, Konyaspor, and Genclerbirligi all within striking distance of the top, it's possible that the Super Lig could be represented by someone other than the big four for the first time in history next year. Maybe this is what it would take to light a fire under Fener.

Fenerbahce has 12 Super Lig games left to prove that they aren't the Chelsea of Turkish futbol - a team loaded with talent that fails to reach their potential.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

2-Goal Revenge: Fener, AZ Draw 2-2; Fener Eliminated

Fenerbahce's Centennial hopes of European success have ended following a 2-2 draw in Holland vs. AZ Alkmaar. Unlike the first leg, it was Fener who got off to a quick start today and gained the two-goal advantage. But just like the first leg, the home team came back from being down two goals to tie it up, and it was enough for AZ to advance in the UEFA Cup. A game that looked so promising for Fenerbahce ended in despair.

Fenerbahce limited AZ Alkmaar to only one shot in the first half, while Fener struck gold twice from the feet of Tumer Metin in the 21st minute and Alex de Souza in the 34th minute. Fenerbahce controlled the game for much of the first half. Tumer's goal came from a cross from the foot of Mateja Kezman, and Metin nailed it from just outside the penalty area to put Fener ahead 1-0. Thirteen minutes later, Kezman, who missed the first leg, again sent a cross to Alex de Souza in the middle of the box allowing Alex to score and put Fener up 2-0. The goal was Fenerbahce's fourth straight in the series, coming back from a 3-1 deficit to take a 5-3 aggregate advantage.

After the break, AZ made some crucial substitutions and began an immediate attack, while Fener played a bit pensively. Zico's men appeared to be playing to "not lose" rather than keep up the attack and win the game. Finally, in the 63rd minute, Maarten Martens scored for AZ, bringing them only one goal away from advancing. Fenerbahce again shrugged a bit on the pitch, while AZ kept up their attack. Fenerbahce seemed to be playing for their lives, rather than playing like a team with the advantage looking to pick up an insurance goal. The Fener defense held strong despite the attack for most of the second half, and Volkan Demirel made some crucial saves in goal for Fener. As the second half wound down, the desperation began to settle in, but it seemed both teams were becoming desperate rather than just AZ Alkmaar. The momentum had clearly shifted to the Dutch outfit, and Fener was hanging on for dear lives. Finally, only four minutes from regulation, Barry Opdam headed in a free kick from the right off the foot of Julian Jenner to tie the game at 2-2 and complete the comeback for AZ. Despite there being enough time for another goal, it was easy to see that there would be no comeback for the Yellow Canaries tonight. The game ended at 2-2, as did Fenerbahce's European hopes in their 100th year.

Fenerbahce had more shots on goal in the game - ten, compared to only seven for AZ. Six of those were on target for Fener, but AZ goalkeeper Boy Waterman was again fantastic in goal for the Dutch side. AZ committed 13 fouls in the game, compared to ten for Fenerbahce. Corner kicks were nearly even for both teams, with AZ having seven opportunities from the corner and Fener having eight. Ball control percentage skewed tremendously in the second half to AZ, and they ended up having possession for 59% of the time compared to only 41% for Fenerbahce. Deniz Baris and Stephen Appiah both picked up yellow cards for Fenerbahce. Opdam and Steinsson acquired yellows for AZ.

More Fenerbahce vs. AZ Alkmaar Game Notes

Courtesy of
Most clubs in the UEFA Cup Round of 32 would feel confident about progressing after gaining a 3-3 draw away from home in the first leg. However, AZ Alkmaar have more reason than most to feel composed when they meet Fenerbahçe SK in the Netherlands tonight.

If AZ manage to avoid defeat to the Turkish side, it will stretch their unbeaten home run in European competition to 28 matches - 23 of which would have been played in the UEFA Cup. Only English side Ipswich Town FC, who have never tasted a home defeat in 31 European games (including 26 in the UEFA Cup), can boast a better record in front of their own supporters.

The achievement of the club is made even more impressive by the fact that they did not play in European competition for a period of over 20 years and have kept the run going after moving into a new stadium. Between 14 September 1977 and the end of the 1981/82 season, famous sides like FC Barcelona, FC Internazionale Milano and Liverpool FC were unable to beat the Alkmaar side in the Alkmaarder Hout stadium. Ipswich themselves were victims as AZ almost turned round a 3-0 first-leg deficit in the 1980/81 UEFA Cup final - the English side eventually triumphing 5-4 on aggregate.
When the club eventually resumed their European adventure in the 2004/05, they carried on the remarkable feat under Co Adriaanse as AZ reached the semi-finals where they were knocked out on away goals by Sporting Club de Portugal. After moving to the DSB-Stadium in 2006 coach Louis van Gaal picked up the baton although FC Slovan Liberec nearly ended the run in November only for substitute Julian Jenner to snatch a 2-2 draw in the final minute. However, Van Gaal is more concerned with qualification for the next stage rather than extending the record and he is particularly wary of Mateja Kežman, who scored seven times in four seasons in Alkmaar during his time at PSV Eindhoven.

Van Gaal: "Fenerbahce Will Be Afraid of Arveladze"

Speaking to the media prior to today's game vs. Fenerbahce, AZ Alkmaar manager Louis Van Gaal commented on the return of striker Shota Arveladze to the AZ lineup. "We have our best player back," he said. "He had a good record in Turkish football [when he played for Trabzonspor] and I think Fenerbahçe will be a little afraid of Arveladze."

Van Gaal went on to say "I realise that it is possible that we can lose," said Van Gaal. "They have Kežman back and a number of other players. Fenerbahçe have players who can decide a match on their own. They did that last week, as they converted our 1-3 lead in a 3-3 draw."

Zico Announces Fenerbahce's Starting Eleven

Zico has announced today's starting eleven for Fenerbahce's UEFA Cup game vs. AZ Alkmaar. The Canaries will go with Volkan Demirel, Ümit Özat, Önder Turaci, Deniz Baris, Diego Lugano, Edu Dracena, Stephen Appiah, Tümer Metin, Alex de Souza, Mateja Kezman, and Tuncay Sanli.

Photos from Fenerbahce's Final Training Session

Photos courtesy of

Large Contingent of Fenerbahce Fans Expected in Holland

Fenerbahce hasn't yet become one of the greatest clubs in Europe, but they certainly have one of the largest fan bases and most passionate fans of any club in the world. Like most away games, a large contingent of Fenerbahce fans is already in Holland ready for today's UEFA Cup game vs. AZ Alkmaar. Fenerbahce is fortunate to have fans all over the world, from Turkiye to England and even in Louisville, Kentucky, USA...:). As a result, Fenerbahce is typically represented well no matter where on Earth they play. Today's game in Holland will be no different. Fener went through their final training session on Wednesday, with lots of Canary fans in attendance to watch.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Is The Turkcell Super Lig Underrated?

If you aren't living in Turkiye or don't speak Turkish, try finding some information on the teams in the Turkcell Super Lig. Go ahead.....and good luck. It isn't easy, which I have learned first hand because A). I don't live in Turkiye and B). I don't speak a great deal of Turkish. In my short time as a Fenerbahce fan, I've learned that the Turkcell Super Lig isn't viewed as premier European futbol league. I've even heard this from fans of Turkish teams. I had accepted this as truth....until recently.
I don't have Digiturk, so I rely on the internet for all of my Turkish futbol viewing. I don't get to see nearly as much as I'd like, but I've seen other teams play over the last few years in addition to my beloved Fenerbahce. I do have Fox Soccer Channel here in America, which should really be called "The English Premiership Network." As a result, I've seen a lot of English football, and a good deal of Italian football as well. I've seen some German games, a few Dutch games, some Argentine and Brazilian games, etc. After watching all of these games, I've concluded this: The Turkcell Super Lig is underrated and (gasp!) may be one of the better leagues in Europe. Yes, you read that correctly.
Let's look at Fenerbahce. We Fener supporters tend to believe we have one of the greatest clubs in Europe. Our rival Galatasaray supporters argue that we haven't done much in Euro competition. And....well....we're both right. A month ago I was having dinner with a friend of mine, who is a huge Barcelona fan. I told him I was a Fenerbahce fan which is usually followed by a list of strange questions. Instead, when I told him I was a Fener fan, he said "Yeah, Fenerbahce is becoming one of those great, big European clubs." At first I didn't think I heard him correctly. He isn't Turkish and is a follower of Barcelona. Sure enough, that's what he said. No, Fener hasn't won Champions League or even the UEFA Cup (yet), but you'll be hard-pressed to find any club in the world with a more loyal and passionate fan base.
Fenerbahce's recent European jaunts include a 3-0 thrashing of then-Italian Serie A leaders Palermo. They are currently third in Serie A sitting behind only Roma and the invincible Inter Milan. Fenerbahce also got past Eintracht Frankfurt earlier this season, as well as Holland's Ado Den Haag. Despite losing 1-0 to England's Newcastle United, many critics and even Newcastle fans argued that Fener outplayed the Magpies at St. James Park. Last week, Fenerbahce scored three goals (two in the second half) to draw 3-3 with Eredivisie third-place side AZ Alkmaar. AZ currently sits only six points behind league leaders PSV Eindhoven and one point behind Ajax Amsterdam. Not spectacular, but Fener has also just edged last-place Turkish rivals Sakaryaspor, and recently dropped a game to bottom-feeders Caykur Rizespor. Does Fener play up and down to their competition, or is the Turkcell Super Lig better than it gets credit for?
Ofcourse, Galatasaray owns a UEFA Cup championship in the last decade, and squads Besiktas, Trabzonspor, etc. have had some degree of good fortune in European competion. But think back to last year's World Cup in Germany. Besides Italy GK Buffon, Ghana's Richard Kingson may have been the second-best goalkeeper in the World Cup, and without question one of the top five. His teammate, Stephen Appiah, gave a magnificent performance as well and had a spectacular match-winning goal against the Americans allowing Ghana to advance. Both Appiah and Kingson play their futbol in the Turkcell Super Lig.
Don't get me wrong - Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, Besiktas, Vestel Manisaspor, etc. all have a lot of work to do before we can call ourselves some of the best sides in Europe. When I was in Italy in December, I got to see Fiorentina play Messina in a crucial Serie A game. Watching spectacular playmakers such as Luca Toni and Adrian Mutu was wonderful, but the whole time I kept thinking "Fenerbahce is better than this. Fenerbahce would beat this team." I think the same thing when I watch some much of the Dutch league, the Spanish league, the French league, and even the German Bundesliga. I'm not saying those leagues are rubbish, but I do think the top half of the Turkcell Super Lig would match up well with most of their clubs.
Maybe I am crazy, and maybe we play down to our competition. I do think the Turkcell Super Lig is a much better league in terms of talent than we get credit for. But let's face it, we don't get much credit, so maybe that isn't saying much...

Fenerbahce vs. AZ Alkmaar UEFA Cup Match Notes

Match notes courtesy of

Louis van Gaal can complete a full set of wins against Istanbul's big three clubs as his AZ Alkmaar side go into the home leg of their UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie against Fenerbahçe SK with the scores level at 3-3.

• Demy de Zeeuw opened the scoring for the visitors early in the first leg but Tümer Metin put Fenerbahçe back on level terms by the interval. Goals from Nourdin Boukhari and Julian Jenner put AZ 3-1 up but Tuncay Şanlı and Tümer Metin scored to restore parity. • AZ have yet to lose a home game in European competition. They have now played 27 home games in UEFA competition without a single defeat.

• Fenerbahçe qualified for the Round of 32 as the third-placed side in UEFA Cup Group H. AZ finished top of Group C.

• Prior to the first leg, the two sides had never met in European competition.

• Fenerbahçe had previously played against Dutch opposition ten times in the course of four two-legged European Champion Clubs' Cup ties and two UEFA Champions League group stage games. They had won two of those games and lost eight. They have lost all four of their previous knockout ties against Eredivisie sides.

• AZ's only previous experience of Turkish opposition came from earlier in this season's UEFA Cup campaign as they beat Kayserispor over two legs to reach the group stage. They won 3-2 in the Netherlands and drew 1-1 in Turkiye.

• Prior to that victory, Van Gaal had led sides to two previous aggregate victories against Turkish clubs. His AFC Ajax team won 6-1 against Beşiktaş JK in a 1993/94 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup tie while his FC Barcelona side twice beat Galatasaray SK in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League group stage.

• AZ's Georgian striker Shota Arveladze may have some useful knowledge of Turkish football having made his first move abroad in 1993/94 to spend three-and-a-half seasons with Fenerbahçe's Super League rivals Trabzonspor.

• The first-leg lineups were:AZ: Waterman, Jaliens, Luirink, De Cler, Steinsson, Martens (Vormer 89), Molhoek (Jenner 32), De Zeeuw, Boukhari, Dembélé (Lens 90), Koevermans.Fenerbahçe: Volkan, Ümit, Deniz, Edu, Appiah, Mehmet, Ugur (Olcan 66), Tümer, Alex, Tuncay, Deivid.

• The aggregate winners will face SV Zulte Waregem or Newcastle United FC in the Round of 16, playing away on 8 March before staging the return a week later.

AZ Manager Louis Van Gaal Expects Close Match

Courtesy of AZ Alkmaar....

ALKMAAR- Both Shota Arveladze and Rogier Molhoek return to the AZ squad for Thursday's UEFA Cup round of 32 second-leg tie at home to Fenerbahçe. Arveladze has recovered from flu, while Molhoek has been deemed fit enough for action. “Fenerbahçe will be stronger than they were last week, but the same goes for AZ. And Fenerbahçe know that we will include Arveladze, our best player, in the starting line-up.”

Van Gaal admitted he was upbeat about Arveladze’s return to full fitness. He told reporters at the pre-match press conference on Wednesday afternoon, ahead of Thursday’s clash with the Turks in the DSB Stadium: “I think Fenerbahçe will be wary of Arveladze, who enjoys a great reputation in Turkiye.”

The pens were scribbling notes furiously, while the interpreter was translating Van Gaal’s statements and the Turkish journalists also zealously jotted down that Van Gaal expects Fenerbahçe to put in a more convincing display than they did last week. “We will meet a different team; Mateja Kezman will make a return to the starting line-up and they will field some new players, but so will we. There is not much difference in strength between the two sides, but Arveladze could be the missing link.”

Van Gaal also briefly refereed to the goals scored by AZ last week. Nourdin Boukhari and Julian Jenner found the net, but unlike some football pundits in Turkey, the AZ coach did not blame the goalkeeper. “Jenner’s effort was like a Bergkamp shot.”

Van Gaal obviously also looked ahead at tomorrow night’s game. “The contest is far from over. When we kick off, the score is 3-3 and Fenerbahçe have some quality players that can turn a game upside down. Just look at what happened last week: they were two goals down, but managed to make amends soon.”

Van Gaal would like to see AZ kill off the game in PSV like fashion. “I was impressed by the way they held on against Arsenal, but having said that I must admit I only saw the last ten minutes of the game. We were having dinner in a restaurant!”

AZ Alkmaar Back Mendes da Silva To Miss Fenerbahce Game

AZ Alkmaar's defensive back David Mendes da Silva will miss tomorrow's game with Fenerbahce, following a knee injury suffered in Dutch league play over the weekend. Mendes da Silva was suspended for the opening leg last week in Istanbul, but AZ was hopeful about having him back for the second leg in Holland.

Mendes da Silva tore knee ligaments in Sunday's 1-1 draw between AZ Alkmaar and FC Groningen in Dutch league play.

Fenerbahce Arrives in Holland

Fenerbahce arrived in Holland on Wednesday, one day ahead of their UEFA Cup second-leg meeting with Dutch side AZ Alkmaar. Fener and AZ drew even at 3-3 in the first leg last week in Istanbul. The return of striker Mateja Kezman is giving the Canaries confidence as they look to move on in European competition.
Thursday's game is scheduled for 18:45 local time (19:45 in Istanbul; 12:45 EST in the U.S.)

Zico Hopeful for UEFA Cup Second Leg on Thursday

Fenerbahce know they have their work cut out for them if they are to advance in the UEFA Cup, but Canaries' manager Zico is optimistic about the team's chances in Holland.
“Both teams preferred an attacking style of play that resulted in six goals (referring to the first leg). We have only completed the first 90 minutes of an 180-minute competition, conceding three goals at home is a disadvantage, but I can count on my players. We will play to win in the second leg.”
When asked about the protest by supporters against some of his players during the first leg in Kadikoy, Zico answered, “The players have my 100 percent support. The fans' reaction was wrong and my players showed great character bringing the game from 3-1 to 3-3. Real fans support their team both in success and failure; I hope that this will be the case for us from now on. Those who want good things for Fenerbahçe must support Alex,” Zico said, “He deserves it with the performance he has shown up until today. I will not rest him – he will be a regular starter as long as he has no injuries.”

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Watch All Six Goals From Fenerbahce vs. AZ Alkmaar

Click on the link below to watch all six goals from the Fenerbahce vs. AZ Alkmaar game Wednesday. Special thanks to my friend Ugur Pembecioglu for posting the video.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Photos From UEFA Cup: Fenerbahce v. AZ Alkmaar

Photos courtesy of

Crazy Game in Kadikoy Produces 3-3 Draw

A wild scene in Kadikoy on Wednesday put the home team in a big hole, but behind the feet of Tumer Metin and Tuncay Sanli, Fenerbahce was able to regain hope of advancing. Fenerbahce and AZ Alkmaar drew even at 3-3 at Sukru Saracoglu Wednesday evening.
For the third straight game, Fenerbahce gave up an early goal and fell behind in the opening minutes. Alkmaar had a shot on goal one minute into the game that Volkan Demirel was able to save. However, fourteen minutes later, Demy de Zeuw's left foot put a shot past Demirel into the back of the net from the center penalty area. Once again Fenerbahce found themselves down 1-0. Despite the deficit, Fenerbahce controlled the ball for much of the first half. Finally at the 28th minute, Tumer Metin found the back of the net with his left foot just outside and to the right of the penalty area. The goal gave Fenerbahce renewed hope and optimism as the first half wound down. Ugur Boral had a great opportunity in the 43rd minute to put Fenerbahce ahead, but his shot was saved by AZ Alkmaar GK Boy Waterman. Two minutes later, Tumer Metin struck a solid shot on goal from the center penalty area, but Waterman was able to save it. Each team had five shots on goal in the first half and the game was tied 1-1.
The second half saw Fenerbahce control the ball to begin, but making crucial mistakes. Less than three minutes in, Deivid de Souza sent a rocket of a shot on goal but Waterman made the save. Ten minutes later he had another opportunity, but couldn't connect. At the 58th minute, Edu Dracena picked up the game's first yellow card for "unsporting behavior." Three minutes later, Nourdin Boukhari scored to put AZ Alkmaar back in front 2-1. Before Fener could catch their breath, his teammate Julian Jenner scored less than one minute later to increase Alkmaar's lead to 3-1. As the home fans at Sukru Saracoglu felt deflated, the Canaries wouldn't give up on their European dreams.
Less than four minutes later at the 66th minute, Tuncay found the back of the net to cut the deficit in half to 3-2. Two minutes later, Demy de Zeuw would pick up Alkmaar's first yellow card. In the 71st minute, Deivid de Souza would be carded for Fenerbahce, followed by another yellow card for Tuncay Sanli one minute later. Fener were not giving up and their intensity was resulting in flaring tempers in Kadikoy. Finally, at the 74:25 mark, Tumer Metin scored his second goal of the night to tie the game up at 3-3. Sukru Saracoglu had a renewed confidence as Zico's side had fought back to keep hope alive. Alex de Souza, Mehmet Yozgatli, and Deivid de Souza would all have opportunities to win the game for Fener, but none could connect properly. AZ Alkmaar had some late substitutions to try to let fresh legs win the game, but it would finish tied up at 3-3.
Fenerbahce had nine shots, eight of which were on target in the game. They finished with nine fouls and eleven fouls drawn. They picked up three yellow cards in the match. Volkan Demirel had three saves, and Fener acquired eight corner kicks. Zico substituted only once, sending in Olcan Adin for Ugur Boral in the 66th minute.
AZ Alkmaar took seven shots, six of which were on target. They picked up only one yellow card. Boy Waterman made eight saves for AZ, and the Dutch team had six corner kicks in the game.
Fenerbahce controlled the ball 74% of the time, compared to AZ Alkmaar's 26%.
The 3-3 draw gives AZ Alkmaar a decided advantage headed into the second leg next week. Fenerbahce's hopes are not dashed, however. Both teams were playing without crucial starters, but a Fenerbahce side with Mateja Kezman, Diego Lugano, and Mehmet Aurelio would be much improved over the team that competed today. Fenerbahce will need everyone healthy if they are to keep their European hopes alive in 2007. The second leg will be played in Holland on Thursday, February 22nd at 18:45 local time. More details to come...

Fenerbahce, AZ Alkmaar Underway

Fenerbahce and AZ Alkmaar are underway now at Sukru Saracoglu Stadium in Istanbul. Zico has started Volkan Demirel, Deniz Baris, Edu Dracena, Umit Ozat, Alex de Souza, Mehmet Yozgatli, Stephen Appiah, Tumer Metin, Ugur Boral, Deivid de Souza, and Tuncay Sanli.

AZ Alkmaar's starting eleven is Boy Waterman, Gijs Luirink, Gretar Steinsson, Kew Jaliens, Tim de Cler, Demy de Zeuw, Maarten Martens, Nourdin Boukhari, Rogier Molhoek, Danny Koevermans, and Moussa Dembele.

Turkiye Moves Up One Spot in Latest FIFA Rankings

Turkiye moved up one spot in the latest FIFA world rankings released today. Turkiye is now ranked #26 in the world, up from the previous January ranking. They are one spot behind Ecuador and one spot ahead of Russia.

Italy took over the top spot, moving up from #2 in the previous ranking. Brasil dropped one spot to #2. Argentina, France, Germany, England, Netherlands, Portugal, Czech Republic, and Spain round out the top ten. Ghana, led by Fenerbahce midfielder Stephen Appiah, jumped six spots up to #22. Some of the biggest moves include Nigeria dropping 27 spots (36), Egypt dropping 23 (42), and Guinea dropping 40 (62). On the opposite end of the spectrum, El Salvador jumped 31 spots up to #125 following the appointment of new Mexican coach Carlos de los Cobos and their January friendly 1-0 win over Denmark.

Aurelio To Miss Today's Game vs. AZ Alkmaar

The list of unavailable Fenerbahce players keeps growing, as the club announced that Mehmet Aurelio will likely miss Wednesday's UEFA Cup match vs. AZ Alkmaar. Zico didn't rule out using Aurelio completely, and added that he would take a last-minute fitness test prior to the game to see if he could go. However, Zico indicated that every player must be at 100% for today's game, which he didn't expect Aurelio to be prior to the game.

Quotes from Zico Regarding Wednesday's Game

Zico claims "there is no favorite" between AZ Alkmaar and Fenerbahçe, ahead of Wednesday’s UEFA Cup Round of 32 first leg tie. "We will be reunited with our fans after a long time and this will be an extra boost to us," said Zico.

In today’s pre-match press conference, Zico said his Fenerbahçe side is "capable of beating anyone," but noted that AZ "come from a different football tradition" and that they "have high motivation and like big ocassions."

Zico continued: "The result of the Çaykur Rizespor game has nothing to do with a game to be played in the UEFA Cup. They are two different competitions and do not affect each other. We must look ahead. If you look behind while you walk, you have a high chance of tripping up."

Courtesy of

Short-Handed AZ Alkmaar Confident For Today's Game

AZ Alkmaar Manager Louis Van Gaal knows that his team won't be at full strength today, but he is confident in his side's chances regardless. The Holland squad will be comprised of only 16 available footballers on Wednesday, but they know Fenerbahce will be equally short-handed. and expressed that he believes they can get a positive result from this leg. "It would have been nice to have more choices, but in the end only 11 players can start.

"Luirink will play with Kew Jaliens in our defense. That is why they played together a couple of times together in our second team. I am confident that they will perform against the strong forwards of Fenerbahçe."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Fenerbahce vs. AZ Alkmaar Game Notes

Fenerbahce vs. AZ Almaar UEFA Cup game notes, courtesy of

Louis van Gaal can complete a full set of wins against Istanbul's big three clubs as his AZ Alkmaar side take on Fenerbahçe SK in the UEFA Cup Round of 32.

• Fenerbahçe qualified for the Round of 32 as the third-placed side in UEFA Cup Group H. AZ finished top of Group C.

• The two sides have never met in European competition.

• Fenerbahçe have played against Dutch opposition ten times in the course of four two-legged European Champion Clubs' Cup ties and two UEFA Champions League group stage games. They have won two of those games and lost eight. They lost all four of their knockout ties against Eredivisie sides.

• AZ's only previous experience of Turkish opposition comes from earlier in this season's UEFA Cup campaign as they beat Kayserispor over two legs to reach the group stage. They won 3-2 in the Netherlands and drew 1-1 in Turkiye.

• Prior to that victory, AZ coach Louis Van Gaal had led sides to two previous aggregate victories against Turkish clubs. His AFC Ajax team won 6-1 against Beşiktaş JK in a 1993/94 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup tie while his FC Barcelona side twice beat Galatasaray SK in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League group stage.

• AZ's Georgian striker Shota Arveladze may have some useful knowledge of Turkish football having made his first move abroad in 1993/94 to spend three-and-a-half seasons with Fenerbahçe's Super League rivals Trabzonspor.

• The second leg will be played on 22 February. The aggregate winners will face SV Zulte Waregem or Newcastle United FC in the Round of 16, playing away on 8 March before staging the return a week later.

Fener vs. AZ Alkmaar Matches Two Short-Handed Sides

Wednesday's UEFA Cup match between Fenerbahce and Holland's AZ Alkmaar will feature two short-handed teams scrambling for a win. Monday, it was announced that Alkmaar will be without the services of captain Shota Arveladze and goalkeeper Khalid Sinouh for the game. Arveladze is sidelined by the flu and Sinouh is suffering from a reinjured calf muscle from last Saturday's win. Both are significant losses for AZ Alkmaar, as Arveladze has scored five UEFA Cup goals so far this year, along with eleven goals in Eredivisie league play. In addition, Alkmaar will be without Joey Didulica, Stijn Schaars, and Simon Cziommer who are also injured. Deived Mendes de Silva and Barry Opdam will also sit out with suspensions.

AZ Alkmaar will get no sympathy from Fenerbahce, who will be without many of their starters as well. Mateja Kezman and Semih Senturk are both suspended for Wednesday's clash, while Rustu Recber, Diego Lugano, and Onder Turaci are all injured.

Wednesday's match between Fenerbahce and AZ Alkmaar starts at 20:00 (1 PM EST in the U.S.).

Monday, February 12, 2007

Fenerbahce Drops 2-1 Heartbreaker in Rize

With the second half of the Turkcell Super Lig season well underway, Fenerbahce apparently is still on winter break. Fener dropped a 2-1 heartbreaker to Caykur Rizespor in Rize on Saturday. The loss drops Fener to 1-1-1 since the second half of the season started, and continues their slump of poor play.

The game was expected to be an easy win for Fener. It was expected that not only would they accumulate three points, but hopefully even rest some of the starters ahead of this week's big UEFA Cup clash. Instead, Fener found themselves in a gigantic hole early in the game. For the third straight game, Fenerbahce gave up an early goal and this time, had it followed by a second Rize goal in the 20th minute putting Fener behind 2-0. A questionable penalty was called on Deniz Baris for a handball that appeared to be unintentional. The Yellow Canaries had to fight the entire game to climb out of the hole and made it a game with a goal from Semih Senturk in the 70th minute, but they could do no more.

The loss was compounded by wins over the weekend by second-place Galatasaray and third-place Besiktas. GS now moves within four points of Fenerbahce, and Besiktas sits only five points back.

The loss had a familiar feel to it with Rizespor manager Riza Calimbay on the sidelines. Calimbay was the manager at Besiktas when they pulled off the improbable 4-3 victory over Fener in April 2005 despite playing with ten men and a midfielder playing in goal.

The win puts Caykur Rizespor at the 12th spot in the league with 24 points. They are eight points ahead of last place (tied) Erciyesspor and Sakaryaspor. They are tied in points with Gaziantepspor and Trabzonspor.

Rizespor manager Calimbay was obviously excited about the victory, as his team tries to stay out of the relegation zone. “Our need for points is greater than Fenerbahçe's; we simply had to win as we are close to the bottom" he said after the game.

Fener must quickly forget about this devastating loss and prepare for Wednesday's crucial UEFA cup game vs. AZ Alkmaar from Holland. Fenerbahce's next Super Lig game comes this weekend in Kadikoy vs. last-place Sakaryaspor.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Fenerbahce Arrives in Rize

Fenerbahce arrived in Rize on Friday, one day ahead of their Turkcell Super Lig matchup against Caykur Rizespor. The game will be played at Rize Ataturk Stadium at 16:00 on Saturday (9 AM EST in the U.S.). Fener is looking to increase their seven-point lead over second-place Galatasaray with a win this weekend. Several Fener players participated in international friendlies this week, so Caykur Rizespor will hope to exploit the fatigue factor of the Canaries. Zico will have a challenge managing this team and finding the chemistry needed to pick up a win without tiring most of his squad.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Fenerbahce vs. Caykur Rizespor

The program for week 20 of the Turkcell Super Lig season has been determined. Fenerbahce will travel to Rize to play the Teamen of Caykur Rizespor on Saturday at 16:00 (9 AM EST in the U.S.). Third place Besiktas, currently eight points behind Fener, also plays Saturday at home against Denizlispor at 19:00 (12 Noon EST). Second-place Galatasaray is at home on Sunday vs. Vestel Manisaspor at 19:00 (12 Noon EST). Galatasaray remains seven points behind Fenerbahce currently.

Turkiye Drops 1-0 Friendly to Georgia

Turkiye traveled to Georgia on Wednesday and dropped a 1-0 friendly to the host team. Georgia's Davit Siradze headed a ball into the back of the net from a corner kick in the 75th minute for the game's only goal. The win was Georgia's first ever victory over Turkiye.

Turkiye had opportunities to find an equalizer, but were unable to put the ball past the magnificent Georgian GK, Georgi Lomaia. Turkish substitute Gokdeniz Karadeniz had a fantastic opportunity six minutes into the second half after he picked off a pass to take the ball in with only he and Lomaia near the goal. Lomaia, however, was able to prevent Karadeniz from scoring.

Fenerbahce was represented by Volkan Demirel, Tumer Metin, Tuncay Sanli, Mehmet Aurelio, and Can Arat, who was wearing the national shirt for the first time. Arat did not play, however. Metin came into the game in the 63rd minute replacing Arda Turan. Tuncay Sanli left the game right after the halftime break and was replaced by Fatih Tekke.

Turkiye now turns their attention to a Euro 2008 qualifier on March 24th against arch-rival neighbor Greece in Greece. That game will be followed four days later by a match against Norway.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Fener Wins in Izmir 2-1

Fenerbahce went on the road to Izmir today and defeated Genclerbirligi 2-1. It was the second 2-1 victory over the Ankara squad in three days. Fener got on the board early in this one, with a goal from Tuncay Sanli in the 10th minute to put them up 1-0. Genclerbirligi answered quickly though, with a shot from Mehmet Nas evening the game 12 minutes later. The score would remain tied through the half, and early in the second half, Mehmet Aurelio found the back of the net (57th minute) to put Fener up for good, 2-1.

Mateja Kezman picked up a red card in the 74th minute, leaving Fenerbahce to play the final twenty or so minutes with only ten men. Fener, desperately needing three points to stay on top in the Turkcell Super Lig, hung on for their second defeat of Genclerbirligi this week.

Fener hits the road next weekend and travels to Rize, where they'll take on the Teamen of Caykur Rizespor. Until then, the team will be watching other Turkcell games closely this weekend to see if they can create more space between them and their rivals. Second place Galatasaray takes on Kayserispor at 7 PM (12 Noon EST U.S) on Sunday, and third place Besiktas plays Gaziantepspor at 4 PM (9 AM EST US) on Sunday as well.

Fener, Genclerbirligi Underway

Fenerbahce and Genclerbirligi are underway at Ataturk Stadium in Izmir. Fenerbahce's starting eleven are:

Volkan Demirel
Can Arat
Deniz Baris
Edu Dracena
Alex de Souza
Mehmet Aurelio
Serkan Balci
Stephen Appiah
Ugur Boral
Mateja Kezman
Tuncay Sanli

Genclerbirligi's starting eleven will be:

Gokhan Tokgoz
Ayhan Tuna Uzumcu
Eren Aydin
Erhan Guven
Lamine Traore
Engin Baytar
Kerem Seras
Mehmet Nas
Sandro de Silva Medonca
Isaac Promise
Mehmet Cakir

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Fenerbahce Arrives in Izmir

Fenerbahce arrived in Izmir on Thursday, one day ahead of their Turkcell Super Lig game vs. Genclerbirligi. The game will be played at Izmir Ataturk Stadium on Friday, February 2nd. Kickoff is 20:00 local time (1 PM EST in the US).

Fener is looking to pick up three points in the standings and hopefully distance themselves from rivals Galatasaray and Besiktas, who are moving closer to the Yellow Canaries. Fener defeated Genclerbirligi in a Fortis Turkish Cup game on Tuesday by a score of 2-1, with the winning goal coming in the final moments from Semih Senturk.