Turkey's heroics take their toll
Turkey, decimated by injuries and suspensions, face a race against time to patch up their war-weary soldiers for Wednesday's UEFA EURO 2008 semi-final clash with Germany.
The Turks owe their first ever last four appearance to Friday's remarkable quarter-final victory over Croatia when, for the third time in this competition, they came back from the dead.
Up to the 119th minute this game had proved largely forgettable until it burst into life with first Ivan Klasnic's header, and then Turkish substitute Semih Senturk's equaliser in the final seconds to force penalties.
Croatia, their hearts broken having seen victory snatched from under them, were wiped out 3-1 in the spot-kick lottery.
But Turkey coach Fatih Terim's elation at this third get-out-of-jail win in the competition will have been tempered by the number of his squad unable to face the Germans in Basel due to suspension.
Number one keeper Volkan Demirel, handed a two match ban after being sent off against the Czech Republic, is out as are Tuncay Sanli, Arda Turan and Emre Asik, this trio picking up their second yellow cards in Vienna.
He also has injury concerns, with defender Emre Gungor missing Friday's heroics and out of the tournament after picking up a calf injury in the come-from-behind 3-2 group win over the Czech Republic.
And captain Nihat Kahveci left the pitch clutching his groin late on in Vienna.
Turkey's medical staff will be earning their keep as they tend to the wounded and try to best revive the fit after this marathon of a quarter-final played in stamina-sapping heat at the Ernst-Happel stadium.
"I still haven't been able to do any damage assessment," said Terim.
"Emre Asik, Tuncay Sanli and Arda Turan are all suspended (for Germany) because they were booked here, and we have injured players.
"I think this team could do even better. If only we could have the injured players back, but even without them, we are special. There is something special about this team."
Reflecting on Turkey's ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable hurdles in their charmed run at this event, Terim said: "We have always come back and that's not easy.
"Let's hope against Germany we can take the lead."
A major factor in Turkey's journey to the semi-finals has been the never-say-die attitute Terim has instilled in his troops.
He reflected: "After Croatia scored, I saw players lying on the pitch and I told Arda to get the ball out of the goal and start again.
Croatia coach Slaven Bilic reckons the Turks face a race against time to recover in time for Germany. "Having one less rest day than Germany is a handicap, and extra time and penalties are also exhausting.
"They have a number of injured players and suspensions, but some might come back and they won't give up."