Monday, December 4, 2023

Türkiye travel to Armenia to open Euro 2024 qualifiers campaign

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As the rest of the continent gears up for the UEFA 2024 European Championship (Euro 2024), the Crescent Stars of Türkiye are poised to kick off their campaign Saturday with the hope for a successful start against their neighbors, Armenia, in Group D and another eye on Tuesday’s encounter against Croatia.

Since their inception a century ago, the Crescent Stars have played a total of 612 matches, 333 of which were official games, and the remaining 279 were friendlies.

Out of these matches, they have registered 236 victories, 145 draws and 231 losses, including one forfeit.

The national team has amassed a total of 832 goals to date, of which three have been forfeited.

In contrast, they have conceded 875 goals, with 261 away, 268 at home and 83 on neutral ground.

To date, they have competed against the national teams of 91 distinct countries, playing 529 matches against teams from Europe, 33 against Asian teams, 24 against African teams, 23 against American teams and three against sides from Oceania.

The only forfeited victory in the 612 matches was against Greece, in a match held on Nov. 17, 2015, at the esteemed Başakşehir Fatih Terim Stadium, which ended in a goalless stalemate.

However, six months later, FIFA declared it a 3-0 victory for Türkiye due to Greece fielding ineligible players.

On the flip side, a convivial encounter between Türkiye and Kosovo on May 21, 2014, in which Türkiye emerged victorious with a score of 6-1, was not taken into account as Kosovo had yet to become a member of UEFA and FIFA at that time.

The upcoming match against Armenia will be German coach Stefan Kuntz’s 15th match at the helm of the Crescent Stars, having accrued nine victories, two draws, and three losses in the previous 14 matches.

This will be the third time that Türkiye and Armenia have faced off against one another in the annals of history, with the former having emerged victorious in both of the previous encounters.

The two teams were also pitted against each other in the 2010 World Cup European Qualifications, with Türkiye besting their opponents in the matches played at the Hrazdan Stadium in Armenia on Sept. 6, 2008, and the Atatürk Stadium in Bursa on Oct. 14, 2009, with goals courtesy of Tuncay Şanlı, Semih Şentürk, Halil Altıntop, and Servet Çetin.

In these two matches, Türkiye scored four goals, leaving their opponents without a single chance to get on the scoreboard.

The Crescent Stars are a familiar face in the UEFA European Championships as they have only missed the tournament twice since 1996.

The most recent one was the 2020 post-COVID-19 Euros which saw Türkiye’s fate determined as they were drawn in Group H of the qualifying stage, alongside the then reigning FIFA World Cup champions France, Iceland, Albania, Moldova, and Andorra.

Under the veteran coach Şenol Güneş, the team underwent a massive transformation, blending the youthful exuberance of emerging talents like Burak Yılmaz and Emre Belözoglu with the invaluable experience of veteran players.

His ingenious restructuring of the squad was vindicated, as Türkiye went on to achieve one of their most remarkable campaigns in recent memory.

Despite the anticipation of a thrilling tournament, the Euro 2020 tournament got off to a disastrous start when Türkiye, tasked with the high honor of opening the festivities, were soundly defeated 3-0 by the eventual winners, Italy in Group A, with Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne finding the back of the net.

Roberto Mancini’s side had to contend with Türkiye’s stubborn defensive tactics for much of the first half, yet were eventually able to break through in the 53rd minute.

Türkiye went on to lose the next two games from both Switzerland and Wales.

This time with the new coach Stefan Kuntz and a new crop of talent, the Crescent Stars hope to overturn their fortunes.

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