11 October 2014 17:47
Striker Umut Bulut hopes Monday’s Group A clash with Latvia can serve to kickstart Turkey’s Euro 2016 qualification campaign.
Both sides have made poor starts in their bid to reach the competition in France, with Turkey coach Fatih Terim reported to be under plenty of pressure going into the clash at Stadions Skonto in Riga
While Latvia have picked up a point in their campaign so far, Turkey are yet to get off the mark as they followed up a 3-0 defeat against Iceland with Friday’s 2-1 loss to Czech Republic.
Bulut opened the scoring in Istanbul but goals from Tomas Sivok and Borek Dockal condemned Terim’s men to a second defeat of the group.
Now in his third term as coach of the national team, Terim spoke of maintaining belief in the dressing room as Turkey seek to qualify for their first European Championships since 2008.
Bulut also warned against giving up on progressing out of a tricky group that also includes Netherlands and Kazakhstan.
“We are all really sorry,” the experienced Galatasaray forward told reporters on Friday.
“We still have eight games to go. You know that the top two teams will qualify and the third will go into a play-off.
“At the end of the day, there are still 24 more points to play for and we will play to get all 24 of those points.
“But first we want to win the Latvia game and finally get going.”
For Latvia, the visit of Turkey will likely bring back warm memories for fans of the Baltic nation, who saw their side reach Euro 2004 via a dramatic play-off victory over Monday’s visitors.
Having won 1-0 in the first leg in Latvia, Aleksandrs Starkovs’ side came from 2-0 down in Turkey to clinch a draw and reach the finals of their first and only major championship.
With Marians Pahars eager to guide Latvia to the Euros in two years’ time, the former Southampton striker will be well aware of the boost that a win over struggling Turkey would provide.
A late collapse against Iceland in Riga frustrated Pahars, who saw Artjoms Rudnevs sent off early in the second half and his side subsequently concede three goals to go down to defeat.
“Probably the lads were scared a bit and when we had an opportunity to make a counterattack we lacked the last pass,” he said of Friday’s defeat.
“I can say that I’m happy with the team’s defensive display. Just look at Atletico Madrid – they play from defence and look where they are. We just lack class and technique and that’s what we have to work on.”