Turkey's only previous appearance at a FIFA U-17 World Cup came at Peru 2005, where they managed to reach the semi-finals, narrowly losing 4-3 to Brazil before a 2-1 defeat against the Netherlands in the play-off for third place. Shortly before that, the Turks had already shown what they were capable of by winning the UEFA Under-17 European Championship 2005 in Italy. It was not Turkey's first taste of success, either, as this football-crazy nation also won the coveted European crown in the Republic of Ireland in 1994.
Coach Abdullah Ercan's charges only just made it to Nigeria 2009. Defeats at the hands of Germany (3-1) and the Netherlands (2-1) saw them fail to progress to the semi-final stage of the recent European Championships in Germany and only a close-fought 1-0 win over England in their final group game was enough to secure them a place in Africa. Nonetheless, anybody expecting the Turks to arrive in Nigeria as rank outsiders would be grossly mistaken. Turkish junior sides have a penchant for an upset and are more than capable of getting a result against any team on their day. It goes without saying that the nation has a wealth of technically accomplished young players who can quickly slice open even the best defences with their fluid attacking play.
Turkey are particularly looking forward to Nigeria 2009 as an opportunity to prove their lacklustre performances at the European Championships in Germany were merely a blip. "We didn't go out in the group stage for reasons of skill, but because we made too many tactical errors and we weren't disciplined enough," said Muhammet Demir. The Bursaspor striker is one of Turkish football's hottest prospects and, after missing out on the continental showdown due to injury, is eager to show that he can hold his own among the cream of young talent from around the globe in Nigeria.
Facts and Figures
Nuri Sahin, Tevfik Kose (both 2005)
Muhammet Demir (Forward)
The numbers game
7 - The number of goals that Muhammet Demir scored in the 2008/9 European campaign, including qualification matches, to make him the highest scorer in Europe.
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