A new hope
The Turkish national football team beat Belarus 2-1 at Mersin's Tevfik Sırrı Gür Stadium on Tuesday for coach Fatih Terim's second international friendly victory in four days over a tiny European country. The Turks had beaten Northern Ireland in Adana, Terim's place of birth, on Friday.Victory, however, did not come easy for Terim's new-look team over a Belarus side that is ranked 83rd by world football's governing body FIFA. Galatasaray forward Umut Bulut opened the scoring for Turkey in the fourth minute when he redirected a pass from Fenerbahçe leftie Caner Erkin into the back of the net. But forward Vitali Radzionau equalized for Belarus six minutes later (10th), beating Turkey's Beşiktaş keeper Tolga Zengin from up close.
Turkey, thereafter, had to labor very hard to carry the day. A shot by Beşiktaş midfielder Oğuzhan Özyakup in the 15th minute hit the post and rebounded into play. And a lob by Atletico Madrid playmaker Arda Turan, the best player on the night, also hit the woodwork in the 44th.
But late substitute Burak Yılmaz saved Turkey from embarrassment in the 88th, striking in a rebound after his header off Arda from the right flank was first blocked by Belarus's Dinamo Minsk keeper Alyaksandr Pyatrovich Hutar, giving Turkey a hard-fought 2-1 victory.
With Turkey out of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Terim, who signed a seven-year contract with the Turkish football federation on Tuesday afternoon, is trying to form a team that can take the country to the Euro 2016 finals in France.
The team was therefore full of unfamiliar faces on Tuesday as Terim embarked upon his experimentation campaign. Defenders Aykut Demir and Bilal Kısa and midfielders Uğur Çiftçi and Adem Büyük were just some of the newcomers on the squad.
"Seven new players were fielded in the two matches [against Northern Ireland and Belarus]," said assistant coach Hamza Hamzaoğlu, who represented Terim at the post-match news conference on Tuesday.
"We tried as much as possible to give new faces a chance, and so these matches were very beneficial from this standpoint. God willing, we will add new members to our fold and we will have a new team full of skilled players," he added.