Turkey struggled under a torrential downpour Wednesday against Switzerland in Basel, but a second-half comeback revitalized the team, whose confidence was at a low after a 2-0 opening Group A defeat against Portugal. Turkey's 2-1 victory over co-host Switzerland has given it the confidence boost needed to win its last group game against the Czech Republic and qualify for the quarterfinals, coach Fatih Terim said Thursday. Referee Lubos Michel said he had considered abandoning the match because the rain was so heavy, but clouds lifted in the second half. "My players needed something like this to gain confidence again," Terim said. "The three points carried our hopes to the last group game. We are still in the competition and hopeful. That's important," he added. For a berth in the quarterfinals, Turkey needs to beat the Czechs in the last Group A game. The Turks are hoping rain will stay away from Sunday's game as they aim for a free-flowing game that depends on short and quick passes. That strategy can come unstuck in rain and on a slick, wet pitch.
Turkey was pinned in its own half for most of the first half of the win over Switzerland as the co-hosts mixed long, high passes to move the ball in the heavy rain. Turkey forward Nihat Kahveci, and the midfielders that were supposed to feed him with passes and support with deep runs, did not function well with large puddles on the field which often stopped the ball unexpectedly. Terim's move to bring on striker Semih Senturk and midfielder Mehmet Topal enhanced Turkey's attack, which worked hard to create more scoring chances, bringing about a vital comeback.
"We did not lose our faith or let ourselves down although we were 1-0 down by halftime," said Bayern Munich midfielder Hamit Altintop. "Now with the morale we have, you must believe that we will have a good result in the game against the Czech Republic and get to the quarterfinals." Senturk's role in the Swiss match was crucial, sending forward high passes out of defense, but Senturk may struggle to do the same against a physically powerful Czech back-line.
Coach Terim will also need to find replacements for missing players with at least a few of his players collecting injuries. With knee injuries picked up by defenders Gokhan Zan and Servet Cetin in the opening 2-0 defeat against Portugal, and bruising for Emre Belozoglu, four other players were injured in the Swiss match.
Gokdeniz Karadeniz is suffering an abdominal injury and Tumer Metin has a groin injury, team officials said Thursday. Fullback Hakan Balta and Emre Asik are also being treated for head injuries suffered during the game.
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