SAITAMA, Japan, AP
Turkey has already lost once to Brazil in this year’s World Cup final.
On Monday they vowed not to do it again.
“We’ve seen our deficiencies and prepared ourselves very well for the rematch,” said defender Alpay Ozalan. After a 2-1 loss to Brazil in a group match three weeks ago on a disputed penalty in the 87th minute, Ozalan made a promise.
“We’re ready to face Brazil.”
Turkey faces Brazil in Saitama on Wednesday in its first-ever World Cup semifinal — the pinnacle of Turkish soccer history.
“We will minimize our mistakes from the first match and we will play in the final,” Ozalan said. “I believe that we will win.”
The Turks returned to the 2002 World Cup after a 48-year absence and surprised many with their offense, strong defense and disciplined play.
“Everyone should know that we did not get here by chance,” said left-winger Hasan Sas. “It is proof of the talent of the Turkish players.”
The Turks’ confidence is based on success in Europe.
The national side reached the quarterfinals of the European Championship for the first time two years ago, and club side Galatasaray lifted the UEFA Cup the same year. The bulk of the Turkish squad has been playing together for at least seven years with Galatasaray.
“We’re so close to the cup, we’re united in one heart,” Sas said. “We are not intimated by the Brazilians a bit.”
With three minutes left, Ozalan was sent off in the first match against Brazil after he fouled Luizao, which appeared to take place outside the penalty area. South Korean referee Kim Young-joo awarded Brazil a penalty kick which the Turks still question. That provided Brazil its winner on the spot-kick by Rivaldo.
Minutes later, Turkey’s Hakan Unsal kicked the ball at Rivaldo as the Brazilian prepared to take a corner kick. The ball hit him in the leg, but Rivaldo clutched his face and collapsed. FIFA later fined him 11,500 Swiss francs (about dlrs 7,000) for faking, but Unsal was expelled and the Turks were up in arms.
“I deserved the red card but Hakan did not,” Ozalan said. “I could not understand why Rivaldo acted like that. In this match, we will act accordingly.”
Asked about how he plans to stop Ronaldo and Rivaldo in the match, Ozalan said: “We know that Brazilian players are very good, but we are preparing very well and everyone will see who is good at the end of the match.”
Ozalan is one of the Turkish players who holds a yellow card but he said he would not hesitate to complete his mission.
“I don’t care about my yellow card. To get Turkey into the finals, I will not hesitate to earn another one,” he said.