What are Turkey’s chances of qualifying for Russia in 2018?
Turkey have reached the World Cup Finals on three occasions but have failed to qualify since 2002, when they made it all the way to the semi-finals in South Korea and Japan.
While there was a sense that they punched above their weight in the Far East 15 years ago, it has been slim pickings for fans of the Crescent-Stars in recent times.
They have fared better in the European Championship and featured in Euro 2016 last summer but failed to make it out of the group stage in France.
Results have been mixed in qualification for the 2018 World Cup but, after five games, they are still in with a decent chance of reaching the Russia showpiece.
At the halfway stage, Fatih Terim’s men sit fourth in the Group I standings with eight points to their name, but they are only two points adrift of second-placed Iceland.
Croatia top the group on 13 points and look certain to qualify but it is game on for second spot and a place in the play-offs.
An opening draw with Croatia away from home back in September was positive and the following 2-2 draw with Ukraine was also a creditable result, but a 2-0 loss to Iceland dented their hopes.
With just two points from three matches things did not look good, but wins over Kosovo and Finland have given them belief and it is now all about the second half of the qualification campaign.
Ukraine sit in third and also have eight points and the away clash with Andriy Shevchenko’s side on September 2 looks set to be pivotal to their chances.
Before then, the Turks will take on a Kosovo outfit who have taken just one point and shipped 14 goals already in qualifying and it goes without saying that it is a must-win encounter for Terim’s charges on June 11.
Iceland will also square off with Croatia on the same day and the Turkey fans will have one eye on that clash and hope that Ante Cacic’s side can do them a favour.
A win for Turkey and a loss for Iceland would make it very interesting and give them a shot in the arm for September’s Ukraine encounter and the tough task of taking on Croatia three days later.
Besiktas forward Cenk Tosun scored twice as Turkey beat Finland back in March but the goals have been spread out among the players.
Bayer Leverkusen’s Hakan Calhanoglu has scored a couple, including the equaliser against Croatia, while Ozan Tufan of Fenerbahce, Burak Yılmaz, who now plies his trade in China with Beijing Guoan, and Fenerbahce’s Volkan Sen have also found the net.
Terim will not mind who scores as long as they get right results over the next few games. If you’re confident that Turkey can qualify ahead of Iceland and Ukraine then you might want to check out this £200 matched deposit Bonus at Bet 365.
It must be acknowledged though that the current squad is mainly made up of players based in their home land and, in truth, there are no real superstars. However this might just play into their hands.
Greece proved in Euro 2004 that hard work and togetherness can prevail while Leicester City’s Premier League triumph last season gave hope to all the so-called lesser teams.
Turkey can still qualify for Russia but it will take a great deal of effort and, of course, the odd slice of luck.