Players to watch
Emre Belozoglu (Turkey)
It’s fair to say that Emre’s recent record certainly at club level was not the form of the midfielder that had reached the 2002 World Cup semi-finals and played for Inter Milan in Serie A. The 27-year-old, though, is still a vital cog in national coach Fatih Terim’s plans and should hit the 50 cap mark come the end of the tournament. Was a member of the Galatasaray side that under Terim became the first and only Turkish side to win a European club trophy when they beat Arsenal in the 2000 UEFA Cup. Was banned for initially six - which was reduced to four - matches for his role in attacking the Swiss players after their 2006 World Cup finals play-off. His reunion with the Swiss in the group stage should be interesting.
Nihat Kahveci (Turkey)
Kahveci plays for Spanish side Villarreal who made his debut for the Turkish national team in 2000 against Sweden. Nihat plays predominantly as a forward but can also play as an attacking midfielder. He is a product of Besiktas JK’s youth system and was discovered by Hurser Tekinoktay when Nihat played in Dikilitas in 1996-1997 season. In January 2002 he joined Real Sociedad. While at Sociedad, Nihat scored 57 goals in 115 appearances. In the 2002-2003 Nihat scored 23 goals making him the league’s joint-second highest scorer for the season behind Roy Makaay (29 goals) and tied with Ronaldo.
He had a very fruitful strike partnership with Serbian forward Darko Kovacevic. He has also played in the Champions League with Real Sociedad and represented Turkey in the 2002 World Cup.