Fenerbahçe SK coach Aykut Kocaman has urged his side to keep their heads as they seek to overturn a 2-1 UEFA Champions League play-off deficit at home against FC Spartak Moskva.
After a spectacular Dmitri Kombarov strike gave Spartak the edge in Moscow last week, Kocaman will be without goalkeeper Volkan Demirel (shoulder) and also has injury concerns over centre-back Serdar Kesimal going into Wednesday's second leg. Nonetheless he believes that playing the decider in Istanbul could be a crucial factor in his team's favour.
"We're on the threshold of the UEFA Champions League and up against a very strong team," said the 47-year-old, once a striker for the Yellow Canaries. "They want to reach the group stage as much as we do. As Spartak won the first leg 2-1, they look to have the initiative, but playing the second leg at home is an advantage for us."
After a low-key start to the season, Fenerbahçe beat Gaziantepspor 3-0 in the Turkish Super League on Saturday, and while Kocaman feels playmaker Alex is not ready for Spartak's visit, he can rely on a forward in superb form. A summer signing from Liverpool FC, Dirk Kuyt has scored six goals in his last five matches for the club across three competitions.
"If we can add the passing and balance to our game that we showed against Gaziantepspor, then that's how we should play against Spartak," said the coach. "
If we don't concede, we'll have a chance to win, even if it takes until the 90th minute. I'll try to stress this to my team. The fans should be aware of that as well."
Spartak boss Unai Emery has described his side's performance in their 2-1 weekend Premier League defeat at FC Terek Grozny as "bad", adding: "Maybe we were too focused on the Fenerbahçe fixture." The Spanish trainer has a number of injury worries, with Kim Kallström and Welliton out with hamstring problems and among four players who did not travel to Istanbul. "
We know how passionate the Fenerbahçe fans are, but we are a good team and we will show our strength."