OKAN UDO – Fener gains derby morale with cup victory in Mersin

Fener gains derby morale with cup victory in MersinFenerbahe, aka the Yellow Canaries, left nothing to chance on Wednesday night, overcoming Mersin Idmanyurdu 2-1 in the first-leg quarterfinal of the Ziraat Turkish Cup away at Tevfik SIrrI Gur Stadium on Wednesday night. Galatasaray crushing visiting second division Manisaspor 4-0 in the cup on Tuesday lent the Canaries a much-needed impetus ahead of the Mersin match.

In other words, Ismail Kartal’s men needed victory at all costs to boost morale for the “mother of all derbies” against eternal rival in Galatasaray in KadIky on Sunday. Kartal therefore took this match seriously.

The 53-year-old rested some starters, but nevertheless started with a strong line-up against Mersin. First-choice keeper Volkan Demirel was back between the posts after serving a four-match suspension.

Fener’s starting XI on Wednesday also included thirty-something Portugal defender Bruno Alves thirty-something midfielders Seluk Iahin and Mehmet Topuz 30-year-old Brazil midfielder Diego Ribas and Czech Republic left back Michal Kadlec. Thirty-something Portugal midfielder Raul Meireles and Netherlands winger Dirk Kuyt came in as substitutes in the second half.

The Canaries are aging fast, and former German coach Christoph Daum, speaking to the Bugun daily about Sunday’s derby against Galatasaray, sounded a timely warning. “In my opinion, Fener’s future is the problem There are several experienced players and one way or the other the team is riding on.

But looking to the long run, the team should be overhauled as a matter of urgency. The squad has no fresh players or rising stars,” he said.

However, the aging Canaries were not lethargic on Wednesday. First touch, ball control, strength, speed and stamina, Kartal’s men had everything RIza alImbay’s Mersin didn’t — and Diego was at the center of it all.

Hence it came as no surprise when Diego broke the deadlock in the 44th minute, lobbing the ball over Mersin’s Bulgaria keeper Nikolay Mihaylov to put the Canaries ahead 1-0. Senegal striker Moussa Sow doubled the score a minute later, heading home a Pierre Webo cross as Fener went to its dressing room with a 2-0 aantage.

Brazil forward Welliton Soares de Morais, or simply Welliton, reduced the deficit for Mersin in the 74th, slotting in the ball from inside the Fener box to make the score 2-1, but it was too little, too late. Mersin therefore faces mission difficult, if not impossible, to overturn this deficit in the second leg in Istanbul and aance to the semi-finals.

The Canaries seem to have forgotten about this match and are already looking ahead to Sunday’s derby. “There an important match ahead against Galatasaray [on Sunday],” said Diego.

“I respect the decision of the coach, but if I am called to duty on that day I will do the best I can,” he noted. The other Turkish Cup game between Bursaspor and Ankara’s GenlerbirliIi at Bursa’s Ataturk Stadium on Wednesday ended 1-1.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman