RACHEL – On-form Lions should win if they respect MersIn’s abilities

On-form Lions should win if they respect MersIn’s abilitiesIf the Lions think Mersin Idman Yurdu is going to be a pushover when the clubs meet this weekend, they are going to have lots of trouble extracting the much-needed three points that are up for grabs.Galatasaray may be the paper favorite, while Mersin is a nameless team that drifts in and out of the lower divisions, but such opponents have tripped up the Istanbul giant before.

The Lions are liable to have a big head after annihilating FBM Makina Balova YaIamspor 9-1 in the Ziraat Turkish Cup on Tuesday. But such a result against a tiny third-league team should have no bearing on the Spor Toto Super League encounter on Saturday.

The Lions have been in good form ever since Hamza HamzaoIlu took over in the wake of Italian coach Cesare Prandelliandrsquos departure. Last weekend Galatasaray thrashed Torku Konyaspor 5-0.

After getting knocked out of the UEFA Champions League, the club is pouring all effort into domestic football, with good results thus farTough luckandldquoalatasaray is in good form, we are aware of that. We know that our opponent is strong and we will play a difficult match,andrdquo Mersin coach RIza alImbay said, calling their schedule a andldquoprank.

andrdquoandldquoI mean, we are playing both Galatasaray and Fenerbahe away games one after the other Between that is a cup match. This is a tough fixture, but if we want to be comfortable in the second half, we have to win points from this.

I trust my team and I believe we can do great things,andrdquo he added.Mersin is in a respectable position for middling Anatolian outfit, trailing Trabzonspor to be in fifth place.

The southeastern club is also heading into the match with a win, albeit a slightly more modest one. alImbayandrsquos men defeated Samsunspor 3-1 in the Turkish Cup this week, although their last league match ended in a 1-1 draw with Kayseri Erciyesspor, which alImbay was pleased about, given his teamandrsquos poor showing.

The week before was a loss to Torku Konyaspor, another middling club.The club is lucky to have few injuries at the moment.

Mersin is captained by veteran Galatasaray and Turkey defender Servet etin, who was involved in a car accident this week, but managed to escape unscathed. Midfielders Adem Guven and Oktay Delibalta are both ruled out of the week 14 match.

Sandwiched in secondThe Lions currently occupy the runner-up position in the league, trailing on-form BeIiktaI by just one point. The Black Eagles also have a stiff middle-table team to defeat this weekend, but Galatasaray must be ready to overtake them if they drop points.

The Lions must scrimp and save every point that comes their way. If they drop one here or there, they run the risk of falling behind Fenerbahe as well, the third Istanbul giant, which is just one point behind Galatasaray.

Luckily for its adoring fans, Galatasarayandrsquos match is at home. The club was fined this week and banned from having a tribune for traveling fans at its away matches due to their generally unruly behaviorRegardless of the location, the Lions should have this match in the bag — unless they let their recent round of successes go to their heads.

Mersin is not a team to take lightly, but if the Lions keep up their good form, it is also not a team to fearThe match kicks off at 7 pm at the Turk Telekom Arena in Istanbul. The referee will be FIrat AydInus.

Other Saturday fixtures include EskiIehirspor welcoming Kardemir Karabukspor to its home pitch at 4 pm for a match between two teams trying to avoid falling into the relegation zone. GenlerbirliIi hosts Torku Konyaspor in Ankara and Sivasspor hosts Istanbul BaIakIehir at 1:30 pm.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman