The qualification story of the Turkish during the 1980s had been one of grand failure and chopping of managers. Their 1984 European Championships qualification apart, they had not won a single qualifier from 24, and coming into the race for Italia ’90, Tınaz Tırpan was their tenth manager of the decade. Another very noticeable fact about Turkey throughout the 80s was the utter lack of consistency in their line-ups. Quite often would one or more players be making their debuts for a qualifying match, and it was almost a rarity for any player to be in double appearance figures. Read more >


Qualifier 1
İnönü Stadyumu (Istanbul)

Ünal (74′)


Torfason (63′)

Expectations levels were great pre-match, and the stadion atmosphere was superb. Turkey dominated much of the game against an Iceland robbed of no less than five players since their opening day draw against the Soviet Union. However, despite bossing the game, and despite fine midfield performances by Oğuz and man of the match Ünal, they could not start their qualifying campaign with twin points. Tanju failed to convert a first half injury time penalty, and it would take a wonderful second half Ünal strike for Turkey to rescue a point.

Line-up (4-4-2): Fatih – Recep (Feyyaz 58), Cüneyt (c), Mücahit, Semih – Savaş, Gökhan K, Oğuz, Ünal – Rıdvan, Tanju.

Qualifier 2
Praterstadion (Vienna)

 Polster (38′)
Herzog (43′, 54′)


Feyyaz (61′)
Tanju (81′)

No Mücahit on this occasion, so Cüneyt was partnered by Gökhan Gedikali in defence, and there was a debut for right-sided midfielder Mustafa, who left a decent impression. The Turkish midfield was dominant early on, but they would lose their way gradually, and even if they had generally had the better of the first half, they conceded twice late on to go into the break 2-0 down. They were further behind before Tınaz decided to leave the asymmetric 4-4-2, abandoning the midfield anchor role when bringing Savaş on for Gökhan G. Rıdvan had a superb game, and his reward was assist for both goals.

Line-up (4-4-2): Fatih – Recep, Gökhan G (Savaş Koç 59), Cüneyt (c), Semih – Mustafa, Gökhan K, Oğuz, Ünal – Rıdvan, Feyyaz (Tanju 68).

Qualifier 3
30.11.1988, Ali Sami Yen Stadyumu (Istanbul)

 Tanju (24′, 64′)
Oğuz (70′)


East Germany
Thom (76′) 

Having scored twice after the formational change in Vienna, Tınaz decided to start in 4-3-3 this time around. They took some time before they got going, but from around the 15 minute mark and through to full time, the hosts were truly in charge of this fixture. Tanju struck after Feyyaz’ excellent pass to put Turkey 1-0 up, and in the second half they added a further two through the impressive Tanju and midfielder Oğuz, and there were times when they threatened to run rampant against dormant visitors. Turkey had too much pace and individual quality for the East Germans, and Ünal’s second half performance in midfield was a joy to behold.

Line-up (4-3-3): Fatih – Recep, Gökhan K, Cüneyt (c), Semih – Uğur, Oğuz (Hasan 89), Ünal – Rıdvan, Tanju (Metin 81), Feyyaz.




Rıdvan (39′)

Line-up (4-4-2): Engin – Recep, Cüneyt (c), Gökhan K, Gökhan G – Oğuz (Mustafa 83), Uğur, Ünal (Turan 87), Erdal – Rıdvan, Tanju (Hasan 81).

Qualifier 4
Ernst-Grube-Stadion (Magdeburg)

East Germany


Tanju (21′)
Rıdvan (88′)

Terrific result to send Turkey to the top of the group. Engin the big hero: Saved Lindner’s penalty, and also made several other stops to deny the hosts goals. A cunning performance, and Tınaz again displayed his tactical flexibility by adopting a five man defensive line. Ünal again with a strong midfield display, this time as the deep, central figure, and up front the two inspirational strikers both scored and assisted.

Line-up (5-3-2): Engin – Recep, Cüneyt (c), Gökhan K, Yusuf, Semih – Oğuz (Gökhan G 80), Ünal, Uğur (Erdal 65) – Rıdvan, Tanju.

Qualifier 5
10.05.1989, Ali Sami Yen Stadyumu (Istanbul)



Soviet Union
Mikhailichenko (41′) 

Turkey had been sensing something from this difficult proposition beforehand, but did not live up to the expectations which had been built. They did partially construct their own downfall through their defensive approach, and though they were on par with the visitors for the opening 15 minutes or so, they were subsequently dominated through to half time, where they were a goal down. A change in formation at the break saw a positive change from Tınaz, but ultimately there was not enough creativity against a very solid defence, and it could be claimed that the absent Oğuz was a big miss. Turkey’s chance for qualification now depends on how they can battle for second position.

Line-up (5-4-1): Engin – Recep, Cüneyt (c), Gökhan K, Yusuf, Semih – Rıdvan, Ünal, Uğur (Hasan h-t (Feyyaz 59)), Mustafa – Tanju.

Qualifier 6
20.09.1989, Laugardalsvöllur (Reykjavík)

Pétursson(53′, 69′)


Feyyaz (86′)

With a game in hand on an Austrian side two points ahead of them, Turkey saw this as their opportunity to gain advantage on their possibly fiercest rivals for the second qualification berth in this group. They had to make do without strikers Rıdvan Dilmen and Tanju Çolak, something which obviously was a big blow. With more than four months since their previous qualifier, there was a bit of rust to shake off, and Turkey never really got going like in some earlier matches. They conceded two second half goals, and only manage to reply with a late Feyyaz strike. They’d hit the post through Recep and just before full time the bar through second half substitute Mustafa. They could’ve deserved a point, but all in all it had been a disappointing performance.

Line-up (5-3-2): Engin – Recep, Cüneyt (c), Gökhan K, Yusuf (Feyyaz 64), Semih – Uğur (Mustafa h-t), Oğuz, Ünal – Hakan T, Hasan.

Qualifier 7
25.10.1989, Ali Sami Yen Stadyumu (Istanbul)

Rıdvan (15′, 53′)
Feyyaz (62′)



Star striker Rıdvan’s back, whilst Tanju makes the bench. These were the major headlines for Turkey coming into their penultimate qualifier, one which they needed to win if they were to keep their challenge going until the final set of fixtures. They appeared in an attacking 3-5-2, and were boosted by Rıdvan’s excellent 15 minutes header for 1-0. There were some fine individual performances, and it was pleasing to see Mustafa in a more defensive midfield position. Rıza’s first appearance of this qualification also left a good impression. Plaudits went to Rıdvan for his two goals, though, and indeed also to Engin, for keeping out Weber’s early header from close range. Turkey were delightful to watch at their best, but also had some less inspired periods during the game.

Line-up (3-5-2): Engin – Cüneyt (c), Gökhan K, Semih – Rıza, Uğur (Tanju 82), Mustafa, Oğuz, Ünal – Rıdvan, Feyyaz (Metin T 88).

Qualifier 8
15.11.1989, Lokomotiv Stadion (Simferopol)

Soviet Union
Protasov (68′)
 Gökhan (79′ o.g.)



Arriving in Simferopol aware that they would most likely need to win, and without three key performers in Cüneyt, Ünal and Uğur, Turkey sat deep from the off, soaking up some not too difficult first half pressure from the hosts. After the break it was something of a different story, as there had been goals in the other tie, and so Turkey knew they at some point had to make an attempt at scoring. The closest they ever came was through a Rıdvan free-kick just short of the hour mark, a kick which Dasayev had managed to keep out. When the Soviets scored halfway into the second period, there was never going to be a way back, and as the second goal came on the counter, all of Turkey’s fine efforts throughout the qualification came to nowt. Still, there was a lot of heart to take from the fact that they’d won a reputation for playing an exciting brand of attacking football at best; at the other end of the scale they had it in them to shoot themselves in the foot. Ciao, ciao, Italia.

Line-up (4-4-2): Engin – Recep, Gökhan, Kemal, Semih – Hakan (Tanju 77), Rıza, Oğuz, Mustafa (Metin h-t) – Rıdvan (c), Feyyaz.


As bottom seeds, Turkey had been rank outsiders, and were probably not expected to make much of an impact on qualifying Group 3. However, that had been from the outside looking in. Within the country, optimism on behalf of their chances in football had begun to gather after a bleak 80s so far. Their major clubs had always gathered large support, and for example had Galatasaray won a 1987/88 first round match against the eventual winners of the European Cup, PSV Eindhoven, although this had come after they’d lost the away fixture 3-0. It had been the Dutch’ sole loss throughout that tournament. Likewise, in the UEFA Cup that season, Fenerbahçe from across Istanbul had battled well with Internazionale, with whom they’d drawn 0-0 against at home, before succumbing 3-1 in the return leg in the San Siro.

At national team level, Turkey had endured a drab qualification for the 1988 European Championships, losing by eight to England as the definite low point. They’d decided to pick Tınaz Tırpan, a 49 year old recently manager of Ankara club Gençlerbirliği, as the man to take them into the World Cup qualifying. He’d soon identify a core of players whom he wanted to take the nation forward, and the appointment of Tınaz, although likely to have caused some stir in some parts of the football crazed country, would soon prove to be a clever one. He’d win the only summer friendly before the start of the qualification as Turkey battered neighbours Greece 3-1 in their first head-to-head in 39 years. This game had been the goalscoring debut for midfield man Oğuz Çetin, a 25 year old from Fenerbahçe, and he would turn out to be one of Tınaz’ trusted men during the qualification, where consistency in team selection would prove a key to Turkey’s fine progress.

Their opening fixture, at home to Iceland, would’ve been deemed a must-win game, as the two were probably both considered also-rans in a group also featuring the Soviet Union, East Germany and Austria. Noise levels inside Beşiktaş’ stadium were significant, but despite all their huffing and puffing, Turkey could only come back from a goal down to gain a draw through an excellent finish from inverted midfield man Ünal Karaman, another player who would go on and deliever a very fine qualification. Turkey would follow this up with a narrow defeat in Vienna, where they’d at one point been three goals down, although they had been on par with their hosts for most of that evening.

The turning point probably came in the shape of an excellent 3-1 home win against fancied East Germany. Turkey had displayed a brand of attacking football which had enticed the spectators, and finally they got the goals to go with their performance. Tınaz had already given indications about himself as something of a tinkerman, and against the East Germans he had brought a third different starting formation since the start of the qualification. Their 4-3-3 worked a treat, with a midfield three of Uğur Tütüneker, Oğuz and Ünal outwitting their opponents in a display of passion, skill, determination and running. They’d follow this up after the winter break with another win against GDR, this time a smash and grab 2-0 away from home in which new goalkeeper Engin İpekoğlu would show his quality. He had only been given the chance due to some highly tragic circumstances in Turkish domestic football, where top flight club Samsunspor, for which former national team ‘keeper Fatih Uraz had featured, had seen their club coach crash on their way to a January league game, resulting in five fatalities. Uraz would go through extensive surgery, and, alas, never play international football again, although he would battle his way back to playing at the prime level domestically.

Positioning themselves excellently ahead of the final four qualifiers, Turkey would be up against big group favourites Soviet Union next. Despite a terrific atmosphere inside the İnönü stadium, they could not reproduce the level of football which they’d shown hitherto in the qualification. The Soviets ran out deserved 1-0 winners. Turkey would have to wait more than four months before their next piece of action, and without playing, they would have to see Austria overtake them in the table, and even East Germany and Iceland run them close in the tight table. All countries were by now contenders for the runners-up spot behind the Soviet Union. Turkey would travel to Iceland looking for a priceless win to put them in good stead before the final push.

In Reykjavik, Turkey went down 2-1 on a bitterly disappointing afternoon. They’d been without star forwards Tanju Çolak and Rıdvan Dilmen, who had done very well during the qualification, scoring five goals between them and conjuring up others, as well as having been selected in a show game for a ‘World XI’ together. After a summer of hope and expectation, the outcome in Iceland had been a huge blow to their credentials, and they were now looking at a run-in which included a home fixture against Austria and a journey in behind the Iron Curtain to face the mighty Soviets. They’d win the first of these with another display of their fine attacking brand, almost in similar fashion to the 3-1 demolition of GDR earlier, although that 3-0 turn-over of the Austrians had come at a huge price: They’d have to make do without either of Cüneyt Tanman, their talismanic captain and central-defender, Ünal Karaman and Uğur Tütüneker for the November trip to Simferopol. Turkey did not have a vast pool of top level players, and so, having to prepare for their ultimate push without this leading trio, would be a massive disappointment. All had been yellow-carded for the second time in the qualification against Austria, and so were subsequently booked for the clash in the Soviet Union.

The weakened side that Tınaz had had to field in Crimea had been a comfortable task for the hosts to brush aside, as Turkey had failed to put Dasayev truly to the test. They knew they’d have to obtain at least a point in order to stand a chance of qualification, as Austria and East Germany, both also on seven points before the final set of fixtures, were clashing in Vienna. Ultimately, the Austrians came out trumps, and despite all of Turkey’s promise, they’d have to once again watch a World Cup tournament from home rather than participate. However, they’d given a very fine account of themselves, and could they build on the promise from this qualification, they’d surely mount an even greater challenge next time around.

1Soviet Union843111411
4East Germany83149137

This is a summary from Turkish football mag Socrates, which revolves around comments from players and mangement. I am sure certain points are lost in translation, but what can be extracted makes for interesting reading nevertheless. Thank you to contributor İlhan Özgen, who is also one of the chiefs behind online magazine Toprak Saha.

Player Statistics

Number of players used: 24
Number of players including unused substitutes: 28
Ever-presents (720 mins): 2 (Gökhan Keskin and Semih)
Leading goalscorer: Tanju (4)
Yellow/red cards: 16/0

 – overview

Cüneyt, Mehmet Tanman776302/0
Engin, İpekoğlu552450
Erdal, Ali Keser11125
Fatih, Uraz33270
Feyyaz, Uçar74314253
Gökhan, Gedikali211169
Gökhan, Keskin887201/0
Hakan, Tecimer221671/0
Hasan, Vezir3121041/0
İsmail, Demiriz2
Kemal, Serdar11190
Metin, Tekin2247
Metin, Yıldız119
Mustafa, Yücedağ54123601/0
Mücahit, Tarkan Yalçıntaş111901/0
Müjdat, Yetkiner3
Oğuz, Çetin776291
Recep, Çetin775982/0
Rıdvan, Dilmen7763031/0
Rıza, Çalımbay221180
Savaş, Koç2111121
Semih, Yuvakuran88720
Süleyman, Kocakara6
Tanju, Çolak74339441/0
Uğur, Tütüneker553272/0
Ünal, Karaman7763012/0
Yusuf, Altıntaş332441/0
Zeki, Önatlı3

 – game by game

PlayerIce (h)Aut (a)Gdr (h)Gdr (a)Sov (h)Ice (a)Aut (h)Sov (a)AppsMins
Gökhan, G5910R1+169
Gökhan, K90909090909090908720
Metin, T245+247
Metin, Y9+19

 – ratings

PosPlayerAverage ratingNumber of rated games
4Gökhan, K.7,088
Explanation to table: Total number of rated games: 8. A player needs to have been given a rating for half or more of the games in order to feature.


Friendly: Denmark 1-0 Turkey
Line-up: Engin – Rıza, Yusuf (c), Gökhan K, Gökhan G, Semih – Oğuz, Uğur (Mustafa 61), Ünal (Osman 77) – Metin, Feyyaz (Hami h-t)

27.05.1990 Turkey 0-0 Republic of Ireland
Line-up (5-3-2): Engin – Rıza (c), Kemal (Gökhan G 86), Gökhan K, Ogün, Tugay – Oğuz, Mustafa (Savaş 68), Ünal (Mehmet 74) – Metin, Feyyaz (Hami 68)
Piontek was in charge of Turkey for the first time, but he could not inspire his charges into a repeat performance of some of their WC qualifiers. The Turkish side stood up well to the physical test from the Irish, and defensive debutants Ogün and Tugay were both very sound, the former in how he dealt with the aerial threat from Cascarino. There were some nice midfield moments, but no punch up front. 0-0 a very correct outcome from a tedious friendly.