Turkey’s FIFA WWC Chances: Is 2027 The Time to Shine?

Turkey's supporters wave flags prior the Euro 2020 football qualification match between Turkey and France at the Buyuksehir Belediyesi stadium in Konya, on June 8, 2019. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup is imminent with the tournament taking place in Australia and New Zealand in the coming weeks. It’s a sad state of affairs for Turkey, who have once again failed to qualify for the tournament this time around, having finished fourth in their qualifying group. We look at the odds of their luck changing in the future and evaluate where it all went wrong.

Turkey’s inexperience

As it stands, the USA are the favourites when considering who will win the Women’s World Cup 2023 at odds of 5/2. Of the eight FIFA Women’s World Cup events so far, the USA has won four, including the most recent in 2019. Unsurprisingly, some of the team are considered veterans at this point, and that certainly works in their favour.

There are lots of reasons why Turkey failed to qualify for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, but perhaps the most noticeable is their overall lack of experience. Unlike the USA, Turkey’s presence in the Women’s World Cup, which was launched in 1991, has yet to be felt.

For perspective, the top teams competing at this year’s tournament Down Under have one factor in common: the level of experience amongst their squads. Comprised of top-tier players who have staggering appearances on the international stage under their respective belts, this is quite a contrast to Turkey’s female players.

Over half of the Turkish women’s squad is younger than 27. Typically speaking, successful teams tend to have the majority of their players between the ages of 26 and 30. It’s not necessarily a ‘must-have’, in terms of the line-up, but having a significant amount of players in their prime is pretty helpful when you’re chasing wins on the international stage.

The USA has maintained their dominance long-term by maintaining a successful core and supplementing it with upcoming talents. Players like Kelley O’Hara and Alex Morgan have offered vital experience to the overall squad, which has helped nurture many players into fellow exciting stars.

Turkey can replicate the squad structure of the USA

Turkey obviously doesn’t have the talent pool of the USA, but their current squad is filled with players that will be approaching or enjoying their prime days by the time the next qualifying period comes around. The likes of Besiktas star Didem Karagenç and Galatasaray’s Ebru Topcu should make up the leadership core that Turkey build around.

Turkey’s current crop of talent are still developing their game. However, the players in their mid 30’s, such as Selda Akgoz and Yagmur Araz, should be gradually eased out to make room for younger players. The pair have established themselves as modern greats for Turkey in the women’s game. But they will likely be way beyond their peaks and will possibly retire by the time the 2027 tournament comes around. Essentially, Turkey must make short-term sacrifices to aid their long-term goals.

By offering playing time to their less experienced players, they could see many blossom into key players in the future. Now that the 2023 World Cup has bypassed them, reaching the tournament of 2027 should be the goal.

The squad is at an ideal age to develop in time for 2027

Based on the current structure of the Turkish women’s team, the average age of the squad in four years’ time will be around 25/26 and that is ideal to genuinely compete on the international stage. But the developing talents need to be given a sufficient amount of game time in international fixtures between now and then.

Turkey was defeated comfortably by the likes of Germany and Portugal in the previous qualifying campaign, albeit this way with an extremely inexperienced squad. The fact so many developing players have broken into the team is indicative of the strong generation that is emerging in Turkish women’s football.

The nation simply needs to nurture its talent over the next few years, and perhaps it could find itself well-suited to compete with the leading nations of the women’s game.