Ozgener: We want to qualify directly
© FIFA.com

A delegation from the Turkish Football Association (TFF), headed by President Mahmut Ozgener, was invited to the Home of FIFA in Zurich on Tuesday 7 October 2008 and met with FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke.

Ozgener, who took over from Hasan Dogan who passed away in July, then took the time to give FIFA.com an interview.

FIFA.com: Mr. Ozgener, what brings you here today?
Mahmut Ozgener: I've been President of the TFF for around one and a half months now and took the opportunity today to pay a courtesy visit to FIFA President Blatter. We talked about Turkish football and the game in general around the world, and it was a very good meeting.

You only recently took over from the late Hasan Dogan. How have your first few weeks as TFF President gone?
It was a very eventful and intensive period. A new season of the Turkish championship got under way straight after I came into office, and then the national team were playing their opening qualifiers for the World Cup. After the success we had at the UEFA EURO 2008, we obviously want to continue in the same vein and establish ourselves among the top teams. Our goal is to finish first in our qualifying group and to get through to the 2010 World Cup directly.

What do you think are Turkey's chances of securing their place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™?
It would obviously be very disappointing for us, especially after losing to Germany in the EURO semi-final. I think we deserved to make it through to the final, and so we missed out on the chance of playing Spain for the trophy. Now we're facing Spain in our World Cup qualifying group, so in my opinion this is a showdown between the two best teams from the European Championship. We face them at the end of March and the beginning of April 2009, and that will be both exciting and no doubt decisive.

How satisfied are you with the development of Turkish football in recent years?
I'm very satisfied, delighted even. Both our domestic teams and the Turkish team are getting better year on year. We need to keep on the same track, maintain our position and continue the improvements. Last season, Fenerbahce made it through to the quarter-final of the UEFA Champions League and they are also in the competition again this year. We are making good progress at both club and international level.