The Republic of Ireland’s pre-World Cup preparations was about to be taken to the next level, as they were about to embark on their final pair of friendlies before the big kick-off in Italy. For the Irish, this still lay 15 days into the future, though the importance of both this fixture on the Aegean Coast and the trip to Malta to play the islanders in six days’ time should not be undermined.
Turkey had probably exceeded expectations in their qualification group, at least from an outsider’s point of view. Within the country, they still regarded their ability at international level of such a standard that they ought to compete with the better teams out there, despite their failure in most qualifications in the 80s. They’d even got rid of successful coach Tınaz Tırpan after their final day loss in the Soviet Union, and after a period of interim tutelage from Fatih Terim, they were now under the wings of Denmark’s highly acclaimed former national team manager Sepp Piontek.
Having failed to get a result in their final day outing in the Crimea, Turkey ultimately finished third in their group, two points behind Austria in second spot. Still, along the way they had played some exciting football, and in particular the pair of home wins against East Germany and (indeed) Austria had proved what potential there was within their ranks. If they could build on performances such as those, their future appeared to be one of positivity.
Having shed their manager since the World Cup qualification, they would now need to wait and see what changes new supremo Sepp Piontek would bring. Piontek’s 11 years long tenure as the Denmark national team coach had yielded fine results and not least brought him a reputation for promoting football in ‘the right way’. He was 50 at this point, and would likely have looked forward to his new challenge with gusto. Alongside him, he had a former Ankaragücu and Göztepe manager by the name of Fatih Terim, a 36 year old who was also doubling up as Turkey’s U21 boss.
When looking at the matchday squad, or at least the 16 players that to our knowledge featured, there were some big omissions from their World Cup qualification squads. These were most notably: team captain and centre-back Cüneyt Tanman, who at 34 had quit the international scene, defenders Semih Yuvakaran, Yusuf Altıntaş and Recep Çetin, midfielder Uğur Tütüneker, and not least forwards Rıdvan Dilmen and Tanju Çolak.
For Turkey, the match was part in their build-up to the Euro ’92 qualification which would commence later in the year. Piontek had picked three players who had never featured at international level in young defenders Ogün Temizkanoğlu of Trabzonspor and Tugay Kerimoğlu, a teenager from Galatasaray. Another youngster from the city of Trabzon was Hami Mandıralı, a 21 year young forward. He’d earned his debut for the national team as far back as in 1987, during a Euro ’88 qualifier away to Northern Ireland. Another possible debutant was midfielder Mehmet Özdilek of Beşiktaş. The Turkish topflight had concluded only the previous weekend, with Beşiktaş indeed claiming their first title in four years. They were the best represented club in this friendly, with no less than six players among the 16 in the matchday squad.
Republic of Ireland
The World Cup was looming, with Ireland’s first match at Italia ’90 a mere 15 days away. While it is likely that Jackie Charlton had a good idea of which eleven players he would put out to face England on the island of Sardinia, he could still have been hoping for a surprise performance or two from players who were vying to put themselves in contention.
We have available to us 16 names which were part of the matchday squad. Like with the hosts, there were some major names absent also from the Irish team on this occasion, unless, of course, they were on the bench, rested for the occasion. Players like defender Kevin Moran, and midfielders Ronnie Whelan and Ray Houghton were not among the 16 which we’ve identified. Ten of the 16 were in or around their 30s, so they were obviously still a hugely experienced outfit.
This was the seventh meeting altogether between the two nations, and the first in more than 12 years. They had previously met twice in qualification for European Championships, namely ahead of Italia ’68 and Yugoslavia ’76, with two Irish wins and a Turkish one over the four clashes. Altogether, friendlies included, the record read 3-2-1 in favour of Ireland prior to this meeting.
In charge of an international for the first time in his career was 42 year old Soviet citizen Aleksandr Kirillov from Moscow. He had officiated in the Soviet top league for six years.
|1 Engin İpekoğlu
|2 Rıza Çalımbay (c)
|3 Tugay Kerimoğlu
|4 Gökhan Keskin
|5 Kemal Serdar
|6 Ogün Temizkanoğlu
|7 Feyyaz Uçar
|8 Ünal Karaman
|9 Mustafa Yücedağ
|10 Oğuz Çetin
|11 Metin Tekin
|12 Hami Mandıralı
|14 Mehmet Özdilek
|15 Savaş Demiral
|17 Gökhan Gedikali
|x Erdal Keser
Republic of Ireland (4-4-2)
|1 Packie Bonner
|2 Chris Morris
|3 Steve Staunton
|4 Mick McCarthy (c)
|5 David O’Leary
|6 Gary Waddock
|7 Paul McGrath
|8 Andy Townsend
|9 John Aldridge
|10 Tony Cascarino
|11 Kevin Sheedy
|12 Chris Hughton
|13 Bernie Slaven
|14 John Byrne
|15 John Sheridan
|x David Kelly
Less than two months had passed since Turkey manager Sepp Piontek had been sitting in the opposition’s dug-out, as Denmark had won 1-0 in a Copenhagen friendly in April. Fatih Terim had been temporarily in charge of the Turkish side. Now the pair were joint in their efforts to lay the foundations for a successful outcome in the Germany born manager’s debut in his new role. They saw midfield duo Oğuz and Ünal, two of Turkey’s brightest points during the recent World Cup qualification, get the show rolling. Kick-off had originally been set to 3pm, but the game finally got under way more than 15 minutes delayed.
As for the opposition, the Republic of Ireland’s pair of touchline chiefs, Jackie Charlton and his trusted assistant Maurice Setters, had set their charges up in their customary 4-4-2 formation. Millwall’s Gary Waddock was the surprise inclusion in their eleven, although he had to make do with a right-sided role, something which was probably not ideal for the central midfield man. The pair of berths in the Irish engine room were occupied by Paul McGrath and Andy Townsend, who had both contributed regularly during the Irish’ first ever successful World Cup qualification campaign. Waddock, on the other hand, had not even once featured in either of their eight qualification matchday squads.
There is not a whole lot of attacking intent in the early stages of the game, with the home side looking to keep the ball within the team, while the opposition were less inclined to do so. It is fair to suggest that these were two quite contrasting styles of play which clashed, and one question was: Could the Turkish stand up to the Irish’ physicality?
Ireland were typically playing it long from the back, usually making Aston Villa striker Tony Cascarino the aim. He was under the surveillance of big centre-back Ogün, and the young debutant from Trabzonspor certainly did not seem to be intimidated by this challenge. He gave as good as he got, being a sound match in the air for the head-strong forward. It should also be added that the balls up from the back were not always too precise, whether it had been hoisted from left-back Staunton or either of the two central defenders McCarthy and O’Leary.
Turkey were looking slick in midfield, where Mustafa kept it tight at the rear. It would either be him or Ünal who would take the ball off their central defenders in order to carry it forward. While the third member of that midfield, Oğuz, also was no stranger to transporting the ball in the forward direction, he was also looking the midfielder more likely to make a run off the ball. Not that this was a prominent feature early on, but it would occur.
It was the home side which carved out the first opportunity, although there was never really too much of a goal threat. However, the way they interpassed the ball was quite tasty, as they worked it from Rıza along the right, via forwards Metin and Feyyaz, and across to Tugay in an advanced left-sided position. Just beyond the eight minute mark, it had been the young defender’s first ever foray into opposition territory at international level, and upon receiving the ball, he looked to find Metin at the back stick. However, the ball was not accurate enough, and the Turkey striker, under pressure from the recovering Sheedy, could only aim it square towards goal, where O’Leary scrambled it away without any bother.
Not a lot happening
The pace of the game is certainly fitting for a friendly. Neither side is willing to take risks, and the defences are rarely being challenged. The visitors continue their lofty balls up from the back in the direction of the strikers, although neither Cascarino nor Aldridge have yet had a sniff. Whenever there’s a failed ball up from the Irish half, the hosts are quickly back in possession, although their probings are without pace and intent; they just look cute in midfield. Up top, the home side have Metin featuring out wide to the right, which leaves just Feyyaz to fight it out against the two rugged centre-backs.
Ireland rarely make use of the ball within their team, and there’s an awful lot of running off the ball among their team members, in particular from the pair of central midfielders. However, both Townsend and McGrath do a decent job in pressing, as they apply themselves against Ünal and Oğuz inside the Turkish half of the pitch. Along their flanks, the Irish have not managed yet to connect Waddock at all, while Sheedy is well kept in check by Rıza. And vice versa, you could say, as there is little leeway in the forward direction for the Turkey skipper, whose forward avenue is being monitored by Sheedy.
Could not set-pieces inside the home side’s half of the pitch prove useful for the Republic of Ireland? There is one such opportunity from the left hand side to swing a ball into the centre, but with McCarthy up from the back to assist the strikers, the cross from Sheedy is a pitiful one as it is aimed too deep at the back post, and Cascarino can only get to it after the ball has crossed the for a goal kick. In earnest, this is quite tedious. Ireland do not break sweat in fending the hosts off, as there is precious little to see from the enterprising play which the Turkish select had become known for during the World Cup qualification.
There’s finally an attempt at goal after 26 minutes, when it is Turkey who build from the right through Rıza and Metin to set Oğuz up in the centre of the pitch. The Fenerbahçe ace is 25 yards out when he takes aim, but his strike is not a clean one, and it rolls harmlessly through to Bonner for the big ‘keeper to easily collect the ball down by his feet. A minute later it is Tugay who once again arrives deep inside Irish territory, and even the young full-back takes aim and has a pop from around 30 yards out, only once again for the ball to roll through to the Republic of Ireland’s number 1.
The one Irish player to perhaps feel the need to give a good account of himself ahead of the World Cup ought to have been Waddock. However, he was hardly in the game at any point during the opening half. Not that the Irish way of playing seemed to suit his game, and certainly not with him playing out of position along the right hand side. If the visitors were ever attempting anything along that flank, it would be through full-back Morris, who would look for a run into the channel from Cascarino. Waddock did have what looked like a bit of a nasty challenge on the young Tugay 32 minutes in, but to the home debutant’s credit, he got up right away, in no way making a big issue of the challenge.
So with an earlier opportunity to swing a free-kick into the area having failed, could Ireland make use of another set-piece weapon in the shape of captain McCarthy’s long throw? Not on this occasion they couldn’t. The endless failure in finding the head of Cascarino continued as the centre-back’s throw from the right only reached Engin, who didn’t even have to battle it out with anyone in a green shirt for the ball.
Through to half time
Whatever hopes of seeing the game pick up towards the half-time signal remained futile, as there was no such charm appearing. Ireland looked content with holding their own, and they had desperately little going for them in the forward direction, as they would generally lose possession once they’d tried to play it into the direction of either striker. Turkey were continuously the better side with the ball within their ranks, even though they could not pose anything even resembling a goal threat. There was something of a rare commodity for this opening half when Oğuz had made a run off the ball and into the area from a Feyyaz pass, although he was quickly closed down by O’Leary, who was having a solid game at the back for the men in green.
The referee had even felt the languidness of the proceedings, and cut the half short a couple of seconds before the 45 minutes had been completed, pretty much to everyone’s relief.
It could hardly get a lot worse than what the opening half had given the nearly 12 000 in attendance. The Republic of Ireland had revealed nothing to their watching World Cup adversaries, whereas the Turkish hosts had rarely endeavoured to try and break the stalemate.
There had been a change for the visitors, with John Sheridan replacing Townsend in the heart of their midfield. Surely, it had little to do with singling the departee out in particular, as Townsend had not been any worse, or better, than either of the other members of the Irish team, but providing Sheffield Wednesday man Sheridan with a full 45 minutes to try and stake a claim for place in the team was probably the right thing for Charlton to do.
Cascarino and Aldridge got us under way for the second half.
If anything early in the second half, the visitors looked to have the slightly greater appetite for the game. Turkey looked uninspired, and were willingly surrendering possession to the visitors. However, so used to playing the long ball into the path of their strikers, Cascarino first and foremost, they seemed a bit clueless when dealt with the ball in the centre of the park. The newly arrived Sheridan was no better than anyone else, and his first involvement was a left wing corner which he hit woefully out of bounce across the opposite touchline.
A couple of substitutions
By 52 minutes, Charlton and his assistant Setters had seen sufficient from left-back Staunton and wide midfielder Waddock, and they were replaced by Chris Hughton and John Byrne respectively. While Hughton was indeed a dependable left-back of trade, Byrne was traditionally a striker, and so would be the second out of position man in the Irish ranks to test himself along the right hand side. Could he fare any more anonymously than the invisible Waddock?
Still pedestrian and low in quality
Precisely on the hour mark, Turkey goalkeeper Engin makes his first save of the game, and it hardly looked like he was ever going to concede from Cascarino’s header following Byrne’s free-kick into the area from the right sided channel. Credit to the big striker, though, for getting to the ball when challenged by both Gökhan and Ogün.
While the visitors had looked somewhat more excited at the start of the half, this impression didn’t last too long. The game was shortly back into the mode from the first half, when Turkey remained with the bulk of the possession, although their level of penetration was next to none. Tekin was still looking to occupy that right hand channel, while Feyyaz rarely had a look-in against the two big centre-backs. Mustafa had released him with a ball over the top and down the left hand side earlier, but the striker ultimately ran out of ideas as he didn’t trust his own speed enough to dart goalwards. His pass across the area towards Metin was cut out by Hughton.
While the Irish republic had already made three substitutions, Piontek and Terim felt it was time to stir things up a little, too, as they opted to withdraw Mustafa and Feyyaz, neither of whom had set the game alight. On in their place came Savaş Demiral and Hami Mandıralı. Neither of these two had been seen during the World Cup qualification, but they both proved to be straight swaps for the players whom they replaced. Mustafa had rarely been adventurous in the holding midfield role, whereas Feyyaz’ appetite for the game had not looked huge.
Charlton made his fourth and what turned out to be final substitution at the same time, with O’Leary, who had indeed had a sound game at the heart of their defence, coming off to be replaced by forward Bernie Slaven of Middlesbrough in the second tier of English football. It would turn out that the latest acquisition went into the left-sided midfield position previously held by Sheedy, whereas the latter moved into the centre of the pitch alongside Sheridan. McGrath, who had played in central midfield until then, dropped back to take over O’Leary’s duties alongside McCarthy.
Turkey’s midfield had often been the source of good combinations during the qualification, but neither Oğuz nor Ünal had quite reached those levels so far in this game. Still, they had both probably been among their better players, and with around 20 minutes left for play, the former attempted to reach the Malatyaspor man, fresh from the disappointment of being relegated from the topflight, with a ball over the top. However, he’d just put too much on it, and so it drifted all the way through to a grateful Bonner, while Ünal was left cursing the lack of precision from his team mate. It had been a move which saw some of the energy levels return to the stands, though, as the crowd had earlier gone rather subdued due to the lack of action on the turf.
Ünal goes off
There had been hints of promise whenever the Turkey midfield pair were looking to combine, although it had not happened frequently enough, and with just over a quarter of an hour left of the game, Piontek decided to rest his inside left midfield man. It hadn’t been for the lack of trying, though Ünal had been more efficient during most of their World Cup qualifiers than on this occasion. He was replaced by Mehmet Özdilek, a 24 year old from Beşiktaş, and tonight’s third Turkey debutant. Mehmet would also slot into the role of his predecessor, with Oğuz now being the sole midfield survivor since the start of the game.
There is very little of interest happening anywhere on the pitch, so when on 83 minutes the crowd realize that the ball enters the back of the net, even though it is past their own ‘keeper, they raise their noise levels, although it is quickly understood that the Soviet referee had signalled for a free-kick for the hosts long before the ball had gone in. McCarthy had played it into the channel for Aldridge to run on to, and when challenging his marker Kemal for the ball, the striker had fouled the defender, who’d gone to ground clutching his right shoulder. It had looked slightly soft, to be honest, but as Byrne picked up the remains and crossed it for Slaven to head home, there was no way the goal was going to count.
As so often happens after the second half sees a flurry of substitutions, the game deteriorates. On this occasion, the spectators could’ve been forgiven for thinking that it could hardly get so much worse after a dull and unimaginative first half, though they were proved wrong. Neither side managed to find any kind of inspiration the longer the game grew, and anyone who had muttered ‘this has 0-0 written all over it’ inside the opening five minutes were those leaving the stadium with the biggest grins.
The referee made sure to add two minutes and 23 seconds, which was at least two minutes and 23 seconds too much. There had been a couple of late injuries to home players (Kemal and later also Tugay), and so Mr Kirillov had felt the need for time compensation. Kemal had needed to come off with only a few minutes remaining, and the fourth and final Turkey substitute was Gökhan Gedikali, the Ankaragücü defender who had indeed appeared during their qualification campaign. Kemal had done a spotless job on Aldridge, and Gökhan Gedikali took over his predecessor’s role for the final five minutes or so.
Most people inside the stadium would’ve drawn a huge sigh of relief as the referee called an end to the proceedings. It was 5pm local time and so the tea bars beckoned.
The Irish’ direct style didn’t unsettle the Turkey defence, which stood firm throughout the game. The home side dictated the play for the majority of the opening half, although they failed to severely test Bonner. Some cute tendencies in midfield didn’t lead anywhere, and when there were plenty of substitutions taking place for both sides after the break, any pattern to the game was impossible to discover. There was never going to be a breach in the deadlock, although Slaven did have the ball in the net late on, albeit the referee had signalled for a foul well before the forward’s header.
1 Engin 6.7
2 Rıza 6.8
3 Tugay 7.1
4 Gökhan K 7.0
5 Kemal 7.2
(17 Gökhan G -)
6 Ogün 7.0
7 Feyyaz 6.0
(12 Hami -)
8 Ünal 6.9
(14 Mehmet -)
9 Mustafa 6.5
(15 Savaş -)
10 Oğuz 7.0
11 Metin 6.4
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND:
1 Bonner 6.7
2 Morris 6.8
3 Staunton 6.7
(12 Hughton 6.6)
4 McCarthy 7.0
5 O’Leary 7.2
(13 Slaven -)
6 Waddock 6.0
(14 Byrne 6.8)
7 McGrath 6.7
8 Townsend 6.8
(15 Sheridan 6.6)
9 Aldridge 6.1
10 Cascarino 6.8
11 Sheedy 6.4