Lille: Turkey have left it late to bid for a place in the knockout stage of Euro 2016 but defender Gokhan Gonul believes they still have an opportunity, if they can beat a buoyant Czech side in their final Group D game on Tuesday.
“There is a thing the Turkish national team always does, which is chasing the game until the last minute,” the 31-year-old defender said.
“Again we have left it until the last game, maybe we don’t have much of a chance this time, but we will still do our very best and, hopefully, with the help of some luck, we can defeat the Czech Republic and go through.”
The Czechs, though, are full of confidence after fighting back from two goals down to draw with Croatia on Friday.
Turkey, by contrast, were lacking in bite when they lost 1-0 to Croatia in their opening game before being given a footballing lesson in a 3-0 drubbing by reigning European champions Spain.
Aside from scoring their first goal of the tournament in Lens, Turkey would need other results to go their way even if they do win, while victory for the Czechs would put them on four points and in a good position to make the last 16.
Spain, who have already qualified for the knockout stages with two wins in their first two games, face a Croatia side looking for the win that would guarantee their progression in the tournament.
The Czech Republic and Turkey claimed away victories against one another in a topsy-turvy qualifying group that the Czechs won, with Iceland coming second and the Turks qualifying directly as the best third-placed team, while a much-fancied Netherlands side missed out altogether.
“Turkey are a very strong side, they have a lot of good players who play for top teams,” said Czech forward Tomas Necid.
“As a team, they have good link-up play and plenty of flair.”
The Czechs will be missing their flair player, Tomas Rosicky, who has been ruled out of the tournament with a thigh injury sustained in their remarkable comeback from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Croatia.
The Czechs have two players, Tomas Sivok and David Limbersky, who risk suspension for the knockout stages if they get another yellow card, while the Turks have five – Burak Yilmaz, Cenk Tosun, Hakan Balta, Ozan Tufan and Volkan Sen – who will need to stay on the right side of Scottish referee William Collum.