Monday, June 30, 2008
Eurosport - Thu, 26 Jun 10:31:00 2008
Turkey won many fans at Euro 2008 and showed they can become a major force in world football thanks to their determination, skill and grace.
Coach Fatih Terim, who said he would probably quit following Wednesday's agonising 3-2 defeat by Germany in the semi-final, deserves huge credit for the way he has handled himself.
Injuries and suspension tore the heart out of his team with goalkeeper Volkan Demirel banned for Wednesday and striker Nihat Kahveci ruled out alongside midfielder Emre Belozoglu.
Three more suspensions and a host of other injuries made Terim's starting line-up almost pick itself yet the Turks still dominated the Germans for half the game and can count themselves unlucky to lose to a last-minute winner by Philipp Lahm.
There were no sour grapes from Terim, though. "We are leaving as one of the most colourful teams here. We were almost there but this is football. We respect our opponents. I am very, very proud of my team," he said.
Creative midfielder Hamit Altintop plays for Bayern Munich and was well known to the Germans but they still struggled to stop him controlling the game with his neat passing.
Winger Kazim Kazim, who hit the bar twice, enhanced his reputation with a mature performance while Ugur Boral, who scored their first on Wednesday, was a real handful on the left.
The fact they scored the opening goal in a match at the tournament for the first time on Wednesday shows how hard they worked to reach their maiden European Championship semi-final.
Throughout the tournament they have fought until the very end for their fanatical fans and their reward will be a heroes' welcome when they return, just like when they reached the last four at the 2002 World Cup. Their success really is no fluke.
Few teams across all previous championships have been able to conjure up late goals like the Turks did here.
A last-gasp Arda Turan strike gave them a 2-1 win over Switzerland in their second group game having been 1-0 down at halftime and facing elimination.
They gave themselves an even bigger mountain to climb in the last group game with the Czechs when they conceded twice only to storm back with three goals in the last 15 minutes.
A strike in the 122nd minute from lively forward Semih Senturk brought them level against Croatia in the quarter-final before they triumphed on penalties.
Having taken the lead against Germany in the first half, they found themselves losing 2-1 after keeper Rustu Recber's error let Miroslav Klose head into an empty net on 79 minutes.
Still Turkey battled back with Semih again the scorer four minutes from time before Lahm broke their hearts, but not their will and incredible humility.
"Unfortunately we have a problem of conceding easy goals. If we'd gone on to extra time the score could have been different perhaps. But at this point in time we must congratulate the winner," Terim added.
Congratulations to Spain for winning the Euro Cup! (Sorry Enrico, but with the way Germany played last night, any team would have beaten them... I'm sure Turkey would have, hehe.)
Monday, June 23, 2008
Friday night we watched the game Turkey vs Croatia. What a game! The Turks are now officially the comeback kings of Euro 2008. :)
The game went into extra time 0-0, and it seemed to be remaining that way towards the end. I was looking forward to the penalty shoot out when tragedy struck. Croatia scored with a minute left! My heart dropped. I couldn't believe my eyes. I wanted to go home.
I stopped watching the game to send a mournful message to my friend when out of the corner of my eye I saw Rustu kick the ball right down to the Croatian box right in front of Semih Senturk who quickly sent it sailing into the net. I couldn't believe my eyes all the more. Did they just do it again?!?
A bit teary-eyed with relief and disbelief, I hugged Jay with glee, and I swear I saw a bit of a glint in his eye as well. Hahaha.
Again it was just the three of us in the quiet sports bar. But before I knew it Sarah was calling from Singapore where she and a bigger bunch of Turks were also watching the game, and we all got to screaming about how unbelievably wonderful it was.
Unbelievable. Wonderful. Beautiful.
The Turks went on to win the penalty shoot out, with the Croatians so obviously demoralized. I forgave Rustu for allowing that first goal to happen. I loved him again. Along with Altintop, Arda and Senturk who made the goals. And Hakan who is just so cute. All of them.
It was 5.30 in the morning, soft rain was falling.
We walked home happy.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
On Friday night we went to the Romanian Ambassador's residence to watch Romania draw with world champion Italy while sipping wine from Transylvania. They darn missed a penalty kick and now have to win against Netherlands to get into the quarterfinals of the Euro Cup.
On Saturday we threw a bridal shower for Janice at the Diamond Hotel. We girls had a jolly good time except for the bright-idea-turned-horrible-joke of an "entertainment" segment. Hahaha. Never again! Good thing there were other more important things like the sweet video message from the groom to the bride all the way from Japan, the fun, funny games and competitive participants, the unidentifiable "celebrity" phone patch from Singapore, the delectable, simply yummy desserts, juicy secrets bared, and the list goes on. 'Twas a good night. *Sigh* Hanging out with good old gal pals is always a heart warmer and spirit booster. I need more of this!
Sunday was Fathers Day. We spent the afternoon in the mall with Hatice. Watching Jay with her makes me happy. Although his first Fathers Day must have been dampened by the sad news of his grandfather's death the day before, I'm sure he over the moon now that he has her already.
That night, we watched Turkey come from behind to beat Czech Republic 3-2 to get into the quarterfinals. It was one amazing game that got Sarah calling me from Singpore just to scream together about it. I am ashamed to admit that I lost all hope when Czech Republic made that second goal with Turkey still with nil. Now I know that this game is really all about heart. And that's what they had that night. Go Turkey!
Monday was Hatice's first day of school. Once again she surprised me. She is one brave little girl. She didn't cry at all. Just like she didn't cry when her grandma left her in her daddy's care. She has a funny way of accepting things stoically. Some things. Things that she somehow understands she cannot change. Other than that, she's your normal 3-year old crybaby. But a very pretty one. Oh well. I hope she learns English soon! She's a sweet little kid, but it's quite difficult communicating with her. Hopefully school will change this.
To wind that busy weekend (extended til Monday), we watched the Incredible Hulk. Jay didn't like it that much but I enjoyed the movie. Maybe because I like Edward Norton. Or maybe I was just glad to have some alone time with Jay.
Isn't it strange that you can be with some people and still miss them? And yet be far from someone and feel so close to them?