Could Turkey Qualify for the 2022 World Cup?
The World Cup is the biggest international event in football so qualification for the tournament in 2022 in Qatar would be huge for Turkey. Unfortunately, due to a tough play-off draw, Stefan Kuntz’s side are going to have to do it the hard way.
Turkey are to face Portugal in Porto on March 24 in their semi-final tie. With Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva and Diego Jota in their ranks, they are set to prove strong opposition. As one of the powerhouses of European football, it was a big surprise that Portugal did not qualify automatically from their qualification group.
If Turkey do pull off an upset against Portugal, they are likely to face Euro 2020 winners Italy in their play-off path final, with that game set to be at home in Konya. Italy have to beat North Macedonia if they are to keep their hopes of a spot at the World Cup alive. Despite not having a place at the tournament yet, Italy are priced at 12/1 in the betting for the 2022 World Cup, which places them in the chasing pack just behind the favourites. The European champions will be a tough team to beat so the path through the play-offs could not have been any tougher for Turkey.
Quality Players Did Not Perform at Euro 2020
Euro 2020 proved to be a disappointing tournament for Turkey so the national team players will be desperate to qualify for the World Cup to show they are better than that.
Turkey lost all three of their matches last summer, with the opening defeat against the eventual winners Italy seemingly destroying their confidence. They scored just one goal, with a consolation coming against Switzerland when Irfan Kahveci scored in a 1-3 loss.
Given the quality in their squad, Turkey massively underperformed in the major tournament, which was held in cities across Europe. Many of the players now feature in the best leagues in Europe so they have experience of playing in big matches.
Of the squad which will be involved in the World Cup play-offs, Caglar Soyuncu plays for Leicester City in the Premier League, Merih Demiral is a regular for Atalanta in Serie A, Zeki Celik and Burak Yilmaz were part of Lille’s Ligue 1 winning team last season, and Hakan Calhanoglu is a key attacking midfielder for Inter Milan. Those players are all capable of delivering big things for their national team.
Turkey Have Upset the Odds in the Past at the World Cup
Turkey’s last appearance at a World Cup came in 2002 when they finished third in what proved to be a special tournament for The Crescent-Stars. They were the surprise package of that edition of the competition in Japan and South Korea.
Wins over hosts Japan and Senegal ensured they reached their first-ever World Cup semi-final. They were denied a spot in the final following a 0-1 defeat to Brazil. It took a goal from Ronaldo in the 49th minute to separate the two teams.
Turkey defeated South Korea 3-2 in a memorable game in the third-place play-off. It was a huge lift for the country, and it inspired them to qualify for three of the next five European Championships.
Hopefully, Turkey can upset the odds against Portugal and then Italy to add another chapter to their World Cup history.