OKAN UDO – HamzaoIlu wields magic wand as Lions win in his debut as coach

HamzaoIlu wields magic wand asLions win in his debut as coachCoach Hamza HamzaoIlu made his Galatasaray coaching debut on Wednesday evening with a convincing victory as his Lions mauled EskiIehirspor 4-2 in their Ziraat Turkish Cup Group G opener at Turk Telekom Arena in IiIli.And the interesting thing is that HamzaoIluandrsquos men accomplished this feat despite playing almost the entire second half with 10 men as Brazil defensive midfielder Felipe Melo was sent off in the 57th minute for a second bookable offense.

andldquoWhat has changed [at Galatasaray], I donandrsquot know,andrdquo HamzaoIlu said after the match. andldquoBut what I know is that we showed determination and fighting spirit.

And this is what I want from my players. Though playing with 10 men, they did not give in.

I congratulate my players, and better days lie ahead,andrdquo he noted.What a difference a coach makes.

Galatasaray, under the tenure of underachieving Italian coach Cesare Prandelli, had never scored four goals in any competitive match this season — but was very famous for conceding four, earning itself the sarcastic nickname andldquorabiaandrdquo from opposing fans.The Lions conceded four goals in Group D of the UEFA Champions League three times in five outings little wonder they have been eliminated from Europe with a game to go.

They were beaten 4-1 by Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Oct. 1 4-0 by Borussia Dortmund in Istanbul on Oct.

22 and 4-1 by Dortmund at Westfalenstadion on Nov. 4 The Lions earned a single point out of a possible 15 in five matches, lost four matches, scored three goals and conceded 15.

Galatasaray also conceded four goals in the domestic Super League in week seven when it was walloped 4-0 by Abdullah AvcIandrsquos Istanbul BaIakIehir on Nov. 26.

The Lions, however, showed andldquomarked improvementandrdquo in week 10 when they were thrashed 3-0 at home by Ersun Yanalandrsquos Trabzonspor It is also worthy to note that the leagueandrsquos cellar-dwelling newcomer BalIkesirspor has won only one match in 11 outings this season, and that was a 2-0 home victory over Galatasaray in week three on Sept. 20.

In a nutshell, Galatasaray had been all over the place and Prandelli was sent packing last Thursday, a day after the Lions were beaten 2-0 away by Anderlecht in the Champions League and eliminated from all European competitions this season. HamzaoIlu, a former Galatasaray midfielder and Turkey assistant coach, was hired in Prandelliandrsquos stead to help instill more life and vigor into the andldquowalking deadandrdquo Lions.

Baptism of fireHamzaoIlu thus faced a baptism of fire on Wednesday against ErtuIrul SaIlamandrsquos EskiIehirspor and the 44-year-old coach came out unscathed. He left out first-choice goalkeeper Roberto Muslera, star striker Burak YIlmaz and injured Dutch striker Wesley Sneijder from the squad, and most Galatasaray fans were wondering what second-choice keeper Sinan Polat would do in goal.

Galatasaray reject Serdar zkan added to their fears in the fifth minute, the attacking midfielder scoring with a well-taken free kick to give EskiIehirspor an early lead. But midfielder and deadball specialist Seluk Inan equalized with a powerful free kick in the 15th and converted a penalty in 36th to put Galatasaray 2-1 ahead at halftime.

Young midfielder Mehmet Erkut Ienturk equalized for EskiIehirspor in the 61st, four minutes after Galatasaray was reduced to 10 men following Meloandrsquos dismissal. But the Lions would not give up the fight.

Second half substitute Bruma put the Lions ahead again in the 83rd, the Portugal junior international winger unleashing a cracker of a shot from the edge of the box into the back of the net. And lanky striker Umut Bulut scored in the 89th to seal the deal: Galatasaray 4, EskiIehirspor 2HamzaoIlu heaped praise on young Bruma, who was given very little chance by Prandelli.

andldquoBruma is a very important player, and he will help put the smiles back on Galatasaray fansandrsquo faces in the days ahead, God willing,andrdquo he stated. andldquoWe will try to utilize all players on the squad, and Bruma is one of them,andrdquo he added.

Other Turkish Cup results: Sivasspor 1, Gaziantepspor 2 in Group A Samsunspor 1, Centone Karagumruk 0 in Group C AltInordu 1, Bayburt Grup zel Idare 0 in Group E aykur Rizespor 2, Adana Demirspor 1 in Group F and DiyarbakIr BuyukIehir Belediyespor 2, FBM Makina Balova YaIamspor 2 in Group G.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman