Turkey aiming big despite tough group

ISTANBUL: Turkey coach Fatih Terim on Wednesday announced his squad for the Euro 2016 finals, spearheaded by foreign-based star midfielders Arda Turan and Hakan Calhanoglu, saying the team was aiming for the highest possible outcome.


Announcing the squad on state-run TRT Sport television, Terim said he was expecting great things from his side despite being drawn in a challenging Group D.

Eight players will be cut from the provisional 31-man squad on May 31, when the final line-up of 23 going to France will be announced.

Talismanic captain Arda Turan, who joined Barcelona this season after a glorious spell at Atletico Madrid, will be hungry for success after spending much of a frustrating time so far with the Catalan giants on the bench.

He will be joined in midfield by Calhanoglu of Bayer Leverkusen, one of few Turkish-origin players born in Germany to opt for their ancestral country.

Terim has reshuffled the goalkeeping contingent with Volkan Babacan, who enjoyed a sparkling season with Istanbul’s Basaksehir, the clear number one out of four keepers in line to go to France.

There is no longer a place for Turkey’s longstanding keeper Volkan Demirel of Fenerbahce, whose international career may now be over.

In attack, much will depend on striker Cenk Tosun who helped Besiktas to their first Turkish league title since 2009.

The manager’s most intriguing choice is young winger Emre Mor, aged just 18, who was born in Denmark, plays for Nordsjaelland but has opted to play for Turkey after representing his country of birth at youth level.

“I think he is out of the ordinary,” said Terim. “I decided to give him a chance and Turkey can gain a very interesting player.”

Terim implied his team had the simple aim of winning the tournament. “Playing in the final is not for me a criterion of success,” he said. “If possible, we have the very highest aim.”

But he acknowledged that Turkey’s Group D also including reigning champions Spain, Croatia and the Czech Republic could be termed a “group of death”. “I think that we have fallen into one of the two strongest groups,” he said.