OKAN UDO – HamzaoIlu makes Lions drop points title ambitions dented

HamzaoIlu makes Lions drop points title ambitions dentedandldquoI am the main culprit and so take all the blame,andrdquo Galatasaray coach Hamza HamzaoIlu said after his team squandered a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with Istanbul BaIakIehir in week 24 of the Spor Toto Super League at Turk Telekom Arena on Saturday night.However, HamzaoIluand#39s admission of guilt does not conceal the fact that the Lions dropped two precious points in a crucial match they could have won easily.

It also does not conceal that Galatasaray was beaten 1-0 by rival Fenerbahe in week 23, which means HamzaoIluand#39s side has dropped five points in two weeks and that their title hope has therefore suffered a huge blow.The Lions were leaders going into week 24, but they may well drop to third — with 10 games to go — if their championship rivals won their respective matches.

Galatasaray started well on Saturday, winning most of the midfield and aerial battles and enjoying superior control of the ball. And the Lions were rewarded in the 43rd minute when midfielder and playmaker Seluk Inan redirected a cross from the right by winger Sabri SarIoIlu into the back of the net to give his team a 1-0 lead at halftime.

The Lions maintained the momentum after the break as they took the game to Abdullah AvcIand#39s Istanbul BaIakIehir And lanky striker Umut Bulut made it 2-0 after just four minutes into the second half (49th). However, the architect of this goal was Dortmund-born winger Yasin ztekin, who sent a superb pass from the left into the box, leaving Umut with the easy task of just tapping the ball into an empty net.

Yasin was here, there and everywhere and his presence forced desperate BaIakIehir to leave more men at the back. And the 27-year-old hit a cracking shot from outside the box in the 65th that BaIakIehir keeper Volkan Babacan just managed to parry away for a cornerNo one knows what thought crossed HamzaoIluand#39s mind.

But the coach, defying common sense, decided to replace Yasin in the 65th with enigmatic Macedonian-Swiss midfielder Blerim Dzemaili to the bewilderment of all football lovers who watched this match live at The Arena or on their TV sets.What a difference a player makes! The Lions collapsed like a house of cards after Yasinand#39s substitution.

BaIakIehir coach AvcI, like any other person who understands football, must have been astonished by HamzaoIluand#39s decison to substitute Yasin — arguably the best Galatasaray player of the night.AvcI then rang in the changes in the 77th, bringing in German-born attacking midfielder Tayfun Pekturk in place of UIur Uar and striker Mehmet Batdal — a Galatasaray reject — as a substitute for Brazilian midfielder Jose Marcio da Costa, commonly known as Mossoro.

And the changes worked wonders.It was Tayfun who sent the cross that Mehmet headed home in the 79th to reduce Istanbul BaIakIehirand#39s deficit to 2-1.

Another substitute, winger Enver Cenk Iahin, replaced Alparslan Erdem in the 60th and scored the equalizer in the 85th with a powerful shot from inside the box.Championship-chasing Galatasaray therefore failed to beat old nemesis BaIakIehir, the team that crushed them 4-0 in seven when Italian coach Cesare Prandelli was at the helmandldquoThere was a Galatasaray that was chasing every ball and putting up a good fight before the substitution of Yasin with Dzemaili,andrdquo HamzaoIlu said.

andldquoI take responsibility for what happened in this match nonetheless, the team should not have squandered a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2. I am going to talk to my players and analyze this match once again,andrdquo he noted.

andldquoI reiterate, it was my fault, and I apologize to my players and to the club. But it ainand#39t over till itand#39s over and so the struggle continues,andrdquo he added.

Also on Saturday it was: Akhisar Belediyespor 5, Kardemir Karabukspor 1 and Rizespor 2, Sivasspor 1 Friday: Bursaspor 4, BalIkesirspor 2 Konyaspor 2 KasImpaIa 1Week 24 of the Spor Toto Super League concludes on Monday with Trabzonspor taking on Gaziantepspor away.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman