Turkey book place in 2022 World Cup playoffs, Kuntz wants to avoid Italy or Portugal

Turkey fans cheer for their national team during the 2016 FIBA Olympic men's qualifying basketball tournament match between Turkey and Senegal in Manila on July 7, 2016. / AFP / TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkey booked a place in the 2022 World Cup playoffs after beating Montenegro 2-1 away from home in their final Group G game.

The Crescent-Stars came from behind with goals from Kerem Akturkoglu and Orkun Kokcu to beat Montenegro and qualify for the playoff round.

READ: Super Lig Wrap 12: Trabzonspor full steam ahead while Istanbul giants slip up

Turkey could have qualified directly for the World Cup had Norway beat the Netherlands but they ended up losing 2-0.

The Turkish side have won three of the four games Stefan Kuntz has been in charge of since replacing Senol Gunes as manager – drawing the other game with Norway.

Kuntz managed to turn around Turkey’s fortunes after the national team had dropped into third place before Gunes was sacked.

Turkey will have to navigate past a tricky playoff round next.

The Red-Whites enter the playoff stage as an unseeded side along with Poland, North Macedonia, Ukraine, Austria, Czech Republic.

Turkey could face one of seeded nations, Sweden, Portugal, Italy, Scotland, Wales, Russia in a one-legged semi-final clash.

Kuntz said after the game that he was glad to have made it to the playoff stage and that the team fully deserved the result.

He did also reveal that every team will be tough but that he would prefer to avoid Portugal and Italy.

“Let us wait and see what happens in the draw, there are no easy opponents. We needed six points in our final two games and got what we needed,” Kuntz said after the game.

“We are growing as a team and I think the Turkish public are behind us.

“Now we will focus on the playoffs. All the teams are tough but if you really want an answer from me I would prefer to avoid Portugal and Italy.” 

The seeded side will play the match at home. In the final stage there are no seeded sides.

The semi-final draw will take place on Friday 26 November.