The Turkish Comeback: Euro 2008

Theme of the game – white bandages around the head

In one of the most thrilling comebacks I’ve seen in some time, Turkey came back to defeat the Czech Republic 3-2.

I thought all the players were going to have white bandages wrapped around their heads after this match. Every time I looked there was blood and a player was been wrapped up by the trainer. The Czech Republic was up 2-0 when they rattled the post with a shot from Jan Polak and then Polak courageously dove to put the follow in, only to have his head scrapped by a defender who cleared the ball – whipping his foot around and grazing Polak’s head. The match turned on its head after that – and all for Turkey at that. The comeback was on.

Jan Koller, the giant veteran at 35 years old started things off for the Czechs. He whacked home a header in the first half as it look like the Czechs would walk through to the quarterfinals. Koller, at 6 feet 7 inches, looks out of place on the soccer field he’s so tall.

In the second half, as the Turkish coaches complained to the referee as their player was unable to get back into the game after suffering a knock to the head and getting it wrapped up, Jaroslav Plasil barely got the bottom of his foot on the end of a cross at the far post. The game appeared to be all wrapped up for the Czechs.

Turkey up the tempo though in the second half and the last 30 minutes they had most of the play. Led mainly by Tuncay Sanli, who constantly sought out the ball and drove at the Czech defense. Finally, a cross came to a waiting Arda Turan and he calmly slotted home the first goal for Turkey – he’s just 21 years old. 2-1.

Later, the best keeper in the world let a cross slip through his hands and Nihat Kahveci was there to put the ball in the net, score is 2-2 and penalties are beckoning.

But in the dying minutes Tuncay Sanli slips a pass through to Nihat who brilliantly bends the ball into the far corner with the inside of his right foot. Nihat wears the captain’s armband and remained confident even when the Turks were behind. There was a shot of him trying to tell his teammates to remain calm as they tried to force things at times.

After the Turkish keeper was sent off for pushing Koller, who made a meal of the minor push to the chest he’d received, the image of Tuncay with the goalkeeper jersey on was quite moving. Tuncay had been the engine for the team, and had never given up. It was fitting that he would then wear the keeper jersey for the remaining minutes as Turkey had used up all of their substitutions.

Euro 2008 - Turkey versus Czech Republic

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Extra: Did you see the group of four or five Czech fans dressed up like Peter Cech? They all wore the protective head gear that Cech wears, the black padded hat, and a keeper jersey. Genius. But today was a tough one of Cech, as he drop the ball on a normally routine cross. Even the best in the world make mistakes sometimes.