Under-strength Turks triumph
Bielefeld, May 21:
The 2002 World Cup semi-finalists Turkey beat Slovakia 1-0 to give themselves a timely boost ahead of the Euro 2008 finals which begin on June 7.
A goal by defender Hakan Balta in the second-half was enough to see the Turks to victory but their performance satisfied veteran coach Fatih Terim, who said he had not had six first choice players available to him including star forward Nihat Kahveci.
Terim started with an experimental starting XI throwing in fresher faces such as Mevlut Erdinc, who plays for French side Sochaux, and it clearly showed in the first-half display in which they were not very well organised.
Defensively they had their nervous moments and had to thank one of their heros from 2002 in goalkeeper Rustu Recber from saving them. However, once Terim sent on another of the class of 2002 in Emre Belozoglu and two other less raw talents in right wing Sabri Sarioglu and striker Gokdeniz Karadeniz the Turks settled into more of a rhythm.
They finally breached the Slovakian defence in the 63rd minute as Hakan shot home with a left foot shot. The Slovakians - who have not qualified for Euro 2008 - only looked dangerous in the latter stages after Filip Holosko came on for captain Robert Wattick and caused their rivals defence a few problems.
Turkey’s next warm-up match is against South American outfit Uruguay on Sunday in the German city of Bochum. At Euro they are in Group A along with co-hosts Switzerland, 2004 semi-finalists Czech Republic and 2004 finalists Portugal, who they play in their first match on June 7 in Geneva.