Hosts Turkey have often been considered among the dark horses at youth level, having twice appeared at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in the past. In 1993 they were unable to progress beyond the group stage in Australia following defeats to USA and England and a draw against Korea Republic. However, they reached the last 16 in the Netherlands in 2005, eventually bowing out against Spain following victory against Panama and a draw against Ukraine in a group which also included China PR.
With home support behind them, Turkey are eager to make their mark at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2013 by competing with the traditional world elite. However, the team from the Bosporus will need to improve on their performances in qualifying for the UEFA U-19 European Championship 2012, where they finished second behind Georgia in Group 9 of the first phase, only to crash out in the second phase following defeats by Greece and Denmark in Group 5. Their second-placed finish at the prestigious Toulon youth tournament provided somewhat more cause for optimism, albeit in the U-21 category. Turkey, who qualified for the FIFA U-20 World Cup automatically as hosts, boast a wealth of individual and technical quality, as well as impressive tactical discipline and team spirit.
This latest generation of Turkish talents are striving to emulate the successes of the full national team, who reached the semi-finals of both the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™ and UEFA EURO 2008 in Austria/Switzerland. The current U-20 side consists largely of players from big clubs in Turkey and Germany, leaving Feyyaz Ucar spoilt for choice when it comes to team selection. Whether they can live up to their own high expectations on home soil in 2013 may well come down to whether the various talented individuals in the squad are able to perform as a collective.