Turkey bid to overcome Czechs

Seefeld, June 14:

Turkey is counting on momentum to trump history when they play the Czech Republic on Sunday for a quarter-final spot at the European Championship.

The Turks came from behind to beat Euro 2008 co-host Switzerland 2-1 after the Czechs were defeated 3-1 by Portugal on Wednesday to set up the game at Stade Geneve that will decide which team go through to the final eight as Group A runner-up behind the Portuguese team.

While Turkey has been lifted by the comeback in Basel against the Swiss, their record against the Czechs doesn’t bode well for their prospects. The Czechs have won 10 games, drawn three and only lost once to Turkey. The two teams last played two years ago in a warm-up for the 2006 World Cup, drawing 2-2 in Izmir, Turkish.

Turkey midfielder Hamit Altintop doesn’t believe history will have any relevance, but says his team’s improved self-belief can carry them through. Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech downplayed the importance of the results from Wednesday’s matches. “It doesn’t matter how we played or how they played before, now it’s another game, another occasion,” Cech said.

This is Turkey’s first major tournament since they reached the 2002 World Cup semi-finals, while the Czechs reached the final at the 1996 European Championship and the semi-finals at Euro 2004. As part of Czechoslovakia, the Czechs won the 1976 tournament.