What are the chances of Turkey qualifying from Group I?

What are the chances of Turkey qualifying from Group I?

Turkey have not reached the World Cup Finals since 2002 when their superb run to the semi-finals in South Korea and Japan was ended by eventual champions Brazil.

The Crescent Stars finished third in the Far East but there has not been much for the fans to cheer about since.

They did make it to Euro 2016 but failed to progress from the group stage in France and, after a disappointing start to qualification for the 2018 World Cup, it seemed as though the Turkish faithful would be spending next summer at home.

Having been placed in a tough-looking group, Fatih Terim’s side drew with Croatia and Ukraine before losing to Iceland and, with two points from three games, it looked all over.

However, three straight wins have propelled them up to third in the standings and given them every chance of reaching Russia next year.

Croatia are top on 13 points but only on goal difference after losing to Iceland last time out, with Heimir Hallgrimsson’s side now having the same number of points.

The Turks have 11 points after beating Kosovo twice and also taking care of Finland but Ukraine are on the same number and are only just behind on goal difference.

With four games to go it is all to play for and, with momentum in any sport key, Turkey will fancy their chances of at least finishing second to hopefully book a spot in the play-offs.

Punters who fancy a flutter on Turkey to make the World Cup Finals should check out the football predictions at Bethut before parting with their dosh.

While it is impossible to predict how the group will pan out, the next international break will surely be pivotal as Turkey travel to Ukraine on September 2 and host Croatia three days later.

A repeat of the two earlier draws against those nations would not be a bad return but, with four teams going for just two places, they cannot really afford to lose.

One negative for Terim is the fact he will no longer be able to call on Arda Turan, who has now retired from international football after an altercation with a journalist on a flight back from Macedonia following the goalless draw on June 5.

With 97 caps and 16 goals for his country, the Barcelona man’s experience will be sorely missed but Turkey will need to move on and try to prove that they are far from a one-man team.

And, a glance at the goal scorers during qualification would suggest they have threats from many areas of the pitch as Cenk Tosun, Hakan Calhanoglu, Ozan Tufan, Burak Yılmaz and Volkan Sen have all bagged twice while Cengiz Under netted his one goal against Kosovo.

They hammered the Dardanians 4-1 without Turan but things will be a lot tougher in their next two fixtures while the visit of Iceland on October 6 already has the makings of a must-win clash.

Proceedings will conclude against already eliminated Finland on October 9 and, due to the tight nature of the group, it would be no surprise if at least three teams could still qualify at that date.

With no real superstars in the squad and the majority playing their football for Turkish clubs, there appears to be a sense of togetherness among the players that will stand them in good stead.

Turan’s retirement, while a setback in terms of the team’s playing strength, might actually help to forge an even greater team spirit as they look to rally over the remaining four games to book a spot in next year’s showpiece.