Having lived in the shadow of more illustrious neighbours, Turkish Super League outfit Kasımpaşa SK are emerging as a force to be reckoned with in Istanbul and beyond.
Since their inception in 1921, the metropolitan club have spent much of their existence in the lower echelons of Turkish football. In 2007, they ended a 43-year absence from the top flight and they consolidated their place among the elite last season after bouncing between the first and second tiers. Now on a financially sound footing and with the backing of their most celebrated supporter, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Kasımpaşa are intent on reaching the next level.
The early signs are promising with Kasımpaşa currently occupying second spot, just four points shy of Süper Lig pacesetters Fenerbahçe SK. Their coach, former Georgia striker Shota Arveladze, who played for Trabzonspor AŞ between 1993 and 1997, has guided the team to five consecutive wins – a club record at this level.
Much of their success can be attributed to a string of high-profile signings over the past two years. Experienced goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson joined in 2012 and helped Kasımpaşa post the second-best defensive statistics in the division. This term's additions include centre-back Ryan Donk and Dutch compatriot Ryan Babel, while Argentinian schemer Ezequiel Scarione has registered seven goals in 11 appearances since switching from FC St Gallen.
Arveladze is nonetheless staying grounded after watching his side succumb to third division İnegölspor in the third round of the Turkish Cup last week. "Didn't you see our cup game? It's a tough job and we're merely at the beginning of a project," said the 40-year-old. "Some may have forgotten this result but I haven't. I hope lessons have been learned."
By contrast, vice-president Hilmi Öksüz is vibrantly optimistic. "For the first time in our history we're holding down second place in the table for a sustained period. We are on a winning streak, making history and setting the standard for good attacking football," he said.
"Our plan was to win the title within five years of gaining promotion in 2012. We also had ambitions of claiming a European spot within three years and I'm sure we'll achieve that. We hope to clinch a place in next season's Champions League. Each year we are getting stronger." Kasımpaşa's European credentials will come under stringent examination when they host Galatasaray AŞ on 30 November and Beşiktaş JK two weeks later.
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