Canaries championship celebrations put on hold

One goal scored by Besiktas during Sunday’s derby has delayed Fenerbahce’s championship celebrations by at least another week.

However, with 67 points to nearest rival Besiktas’s 55, the Yellow Canaries are not too upset. With just four games left in the season, it is all but impossible to overtake the runaway leader. The club has no doubt that the cup will come to it at the end of the year.

The club is concerned with other issues, such as the possible incarceration of Chairman Aziz Yıldırım over the ongoing match-fixing debacle that began in 2011. Players expressed their desire to bag the title early as a gift for their embattled leader.

The match was an important derby, which normally means tension and unsportsmanlike behavior in droves. But the Canaries are so comfortable in their lead that they do not see the need for fighting on the pitch. Besiktas had two red cards, but even that did not set the tone.

Besiktas coach Slaven Bilic congratulated the club for its classy behavior after the match, heading to the Fenerbahce locker room to thank Caner Erkin in particular for his actions.

“They showed that they are not only a good team. They are good men. Not only Caner, but the whole team,” he said, recalling Caner’s sending a misinformed indirect ball out on purpose, relinquishing a corner to Besiktas in the final minutes. “You can say you are expecting those kinds of things but let’s be honest, those kinds of things are not very common in today’s football,” the Croatian coach added.

“We are 99 percent champion as far as I can see. If we had become champion from a goal we scored like that it would have hurt,” defender Gokhan Gonul said.

Almost champs

“If we had won, we would have declared our championship. After drawing, one point is enough for us. If we had lost, then our next win might not have been enough to declare ourselves champion,” Gokhan explained.

He notes that the team would rather win the championship undisputedly than win it faster. “Let’s be champion, but I do not care how many weeks early we are,” the 29-year-old Turkey international said, noting that it will be more exciting to win the last game necessary for the championship in front of its own fans.

This is a very important championship for the Istanbul powerhouse. Fenerbahce needs to validate its position as a top-class team due to the match-fixing debacle, which will keep it from UEFA competition for another year even though it is an all but assured qualification.

On top of that, another cup would give it a grand total of 19, just like its archrival Galatasaray, which is languishing in third place after several dismal results that have kept it out of the championship race.

Road ahead

“We could have secured our championship with a win against Besiktas. But there are four more matches ahead of us, and we want to accomplish this in coming weeks,” Czech Republic defender Michal Kadlec recalled.

Fenerbahce will play against Caykur Rizespor at home next weekend, in a Sukru Saracoglu Stadium filled with women and children, Turkey’s answer to a match behind closed doors.

The club plays particularly well on its own soil. And with only four matches left in the season, all against much smaller teams — Akhisar Belediye Genclik ve Spor, Kardemir Karabukspor and Kayserispor after Rize — Fenerbahce should have no trouble securing the Spor Toto Super League 2013-14 title.

Rizespor showed staying power on Sunday by beating visiting Torku Konyaspor 3-1.

“It would have been great to declare the championship today, but we did not,” Fenerbahce coach Ersun Yanal explained. “I hope that next week we will finish it off,” he added.

“Since we could not manage like we wanted, we are going to keep our supporters waiting for another week,” Gokhan said. “Let’s get together with all our fans. We will have a much bigger celebration,” he added.