OKAN UDO – Europa-conquering Black Eagles return to league

Europa-conquering Black Eagles return to league BeIiktaI, undefeated in all competitions so far this season — is brimming with confidence as it faces struggling Suat AltIn InIaat Kayseri Erciyesspor in week seven of the Spor Toto Super League away at Kayseriandrsquos Kadir Has Stadium on Monday evening.The newfound exhilaration stems from the fact that the Black Eagles, as BeIiktaI is commonly called in football circles, go into the Kayseri match in the wake a 4-0 away pounding of poor Partizan Belgrade in a Group C game of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday night.

The victory took the unbeaten Eagles to the summit of the group ahead of English Premier League side Tottenham HotspurBeIiktaI has won plaudits from far and wide for its performance in the second-tier Europa League thus far, most especially for the virtuosic display against Partizan. However, they should be cautious about counting their chickens before they are hatched.

Crushing Partizan and earning UEFA points for Turkey cannot be underestimated, but the fact of the matter is that Partizan is ranked 124th by European footballandrsquos governing body and BeIiktaI 66th. This, in fact, provides a clear insight into the level of the competition.

BeIiktaI started training for the Kayseri Erciyesspor game almost immediately after flying home from Belgrade. Striker Argentina midfielder Jose Ernesto Sosa, Turkey striker Mustafa Pektemek and right Serdar KurtuluI resumed training with the rest of the team on Friday after receiving treatment for various injuries.

But lefty playmaker Gkhan Tre, who suffered a knock during the Belgrade game and was replaced, as well as defender Ismail KybaII, who was to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on his left knee, were conspicuously absent. It is doubtful the duo will appear against Kayseri ErciyessporBeIiktaI coach Slaven Bilic, however, will not find it too hard finding replacements if these two players are still not fit by match time.

Which players the Croatian coach will bring in to fill any void created by the possible absence of Tre andor KybaII was not known at the time of writing. What was known, however, was that Bilic has plenty of ammo to select fromThis is a match the Eagles cannot afford to lose they need victory in order to get the much-needed morale boost ahead of Sundayandrsquos Istanbul derby against rival Fenerbahe.

Kayseri Erciyesspor, coached by legendary Galatasaray and Turkey defender Bulent Korkmaz, on paper has no chance against the rampaging Eagles. But in football no match is won or lost until it played, and so Kayseri Erciyesspor, backed by the home crowd, still has a chance, albeit a small one.

Injured midfielder Cem Can and veteran Senegal defender Abdou Kader Mangane, on loan from Sunderland, missed several practice sessions but are still expected to be fielded against BeIiktaI.Kayseri Erciyesspor remains the only winless team in the 18-strong league and so Korkmaz and his men are desperate, to say the least.

andldquoA drowning man will clutch at a straw,andrdquo they say. BeIiktaI should therefore guard against being dragged down by andldquodrowningandrdquo Erciyesspor Kickoff is at 8:00 pm and the referee will be Ilker Meral.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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