So close for the Wanderers!
Euro 2020 qualification started off well for the Turks now that former Beşiktaş manager Şenol Güneş is back.
The last time Güneş managed the Turkish national team was back in 2004. Prior to that he is remembered for his spell during the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
The ’02 World Cup campaign was a great achievement for the Turkish boss, when he led his team all the way through to the semi-finals where they faced Brazil, but unfortunately lost 1-0 to a Ronaldo goal in the 49th minute.
However, the chance to give something back to the nation side did not die there as they faced hosts South Korea in the third-place playoff, beating the hosts in a 3-2 thriller.
It has not been the best 15 years for the Turkish national team since Güneş’ departure. There have been a few glimpses of good highlights such as Turkey’s Euro 2008 campaign under their former boss Fatih Terim. Turkey were known as the comeback kings when they bet Czech Republic 3-2 having been 2-0 down.
Following an emotional comeback against Croatia in the quarter-finals when Semih Şentürk made it 1-1 in the last second of extra time, Turkey knocked the Croatians out in a penalty shoot-out and won a spot in the semi-finals against Germany. Once again they were unlucky as Germany went through to the final, beating Terim’s side 3-2 after Philipp Lahm’s 90th minute goal.
Over the years Turkey’s team looked good on paper but did not satisfy Turkish supporters due to their lack of performance on the pitch.
Prior to Euro 2008, Turkey missed out on qualifying for the 2006 World Cup. And the drought continued after the Euros, when they failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup.
In 2016 they qualified for the Euros as the best third-placed team in the group stage of qualification, beating Iceland 1-0 by a mesmerising Selçuk İnan free kick to clinch their spot, but their performance in the tournament was not pleasing to watch.
After Fatih Terim stepped down in 2017, Romanian coach and former Shakhtar Donetsk manager Mircea Lucescu took over the national team. Lucescu had previous experience coaching in Turkey when he managed two of Turkey’s top rivals back to back, both Galatasaray and Beşiktaş from 2000-2004.
In his first season at Gala he won the UEFA Super Cup against Real Madrid. In the following season his side were crowned Turkish champions.
After his departure from Gala he celebrated league success a second time, now with Beşiktaş, having only one loss and finishing the season with an astounding 85 points.
However, his results with the national side were inconsistent. Once again Turkey saw themselves missing another World Cup after finishing fourth in their qualifying group.
Despite the upsets, Güneş has shifted the energy for both the national side and the people of Turkey. He has won five of his six games since joining the team.
Turkey’s opening game in Euro 2020 qualification started off very well, beating Albania 2-0. In the following match they beat Moldova 4-0, lifting them to second in the group equal on points with first-placed world champions France.
Coming from that 4-0 win against Moldova the Turks won both of their friendlies against Greece and Uzbekistan.
Güneş made it a fifth win on the trot when his side defeated France 2-0 thanks to a dominating, old-school Turkish performance.
In the following match, they lost their first game in the qualifiers against a strong Icelandic side. Group H now features France, Turkey and Iceland all equal on nine points, making it interesting for neutrals to watch.
Turkey will be facing Andorra in İstanbul on 7 September, continuing their Euro 2020 qualification run.