Turkey were one of the biggest winners in the latest round of qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Crescent Stars recorded an emphatic 6-0 win over Gibraltar to enhance their chances of qualification.
But they have been here before and the last time round, the team couldn’t respond well to the expectation placed on their shoulders. Turkey were widely tipped as one of the teams to watch out for at Euro 2020 following their flawless performances during the qualifiers.
However, they were atrocious at the tournament and ended up exiting at the group stages after losing all three group matches.
Head coach Senol Gunes lost his job as a result, with Stefan Kuntz assuming the reins. Kunz has brought some stability to the team so far and the Crescent Stars are in a good position going into their last group game.
Turkey take their destiny into their own hands
Group G of the European World Cup qualifiers has become a three-horse race. The Netherlands sit at the top of the table, with Norway and Turkey trailing by two points.
As it stands, the Dutch are in a strong position to win the group while Turkey and Norway look set to fight for the remaining play-off spot. However, the Crescent Stars took their destiny into their own hands when they beat Gibraltar on Saturday.
Kuntz’s side are currently level on points with Norway. But while they’ll be facing Montenegro in their final group game, Norway have a more difficult clash against the Netherlands.
It’s still a very dicey situation but Turkey stand a better chance of advancing than Norway, especially as the Netherlands also need at least a draw to guarantee top spot in the group.
Turkey keep the pressure the Dutch
The interesting thing about Group G is that all three teams can still win the group. With Turkey’s win over Gibraltar, they have ensured that they are still in the running to usurp the Dutch.
After the disappointing campaign that they had at the Euros, giving the Netherlands a run for their money is as good as it gets.
“It has to be said, we need to stay calm, our feet should be on the ground!” Kuntz said after his side’s big win over Gibraltar, as quoted by Turkish publication Arti.
“We had decided today that if we scored as many goals as possible, our work would make sense. We said that it is not the end of the road, it is not Norway, we will make it difficult for any team. They also made this decision. I have seen the mentality of my team in this direction'” he added.
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It will be a huge disappointment if Turkey fail to qualify for the World Cup. But at least they have their destiny in their own hands: win against Montenegro and a play-off spot will be their minimum reward. Should other results go their way too, they could just snap an automatic qualification slot.