Coach Fatih Terim joked that Turkey like to qualify "the hard way" after his side "fought like lions" to earn a priceless 2-1 Group C in Norway on Saturday.
Turkey were on the verge of elimination from the competition as Erik Hagen gave Norway an early lead at the Ullevål Stadium, but Emre Belözoglu and Nihat Kahveci struck either side of half-time to see Terim's side leapfrog their opponents into second place in the section - a position they will keep with a win at home against Bosnia-Herzegovina in their final fixture on Wednesday.
"We conceded an early goal and lost a player [İbrahim Kaş] through injury," said Terim. "Despite those setbacks, my players fought like lions against Norway. Our victory showed which side deserves to qualify for UEFA EURO 2008™. We have not accomplished our mission yet. We have earned a very important and deserved victory. It is not easy for an average team to get an away against Norway."
'Another crucial game'
Draws against Malta and Moldova and a defeat against Greece in recent qualifiers had left Turkey in a difficult situation, and a defeat in Oslo would have ended their hopes of a finals place. "I think we like to do it the hard way," joked Terim. "The players are well aware they have another crucial game ahead of them but I get the impression that we are returning to our best form.
"Some of our key midfielders were not with us due to injury and that put a lot of pressure on Emre Belözoglu, Arda Turan, Mehmet Aurélio and Hamit Altintop's shoulders," he added. "They played selflessly. All of my players were stars." Terim added that Galatasaray SK midfielder Sabrı Sarıoğlu would replace the injured İbrahim Kaş in the squad for the game against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Istanbul.
Having lost 1-0 against Greece in their previous game at the Ali Sami Yen Stadium, the pressure is on Turkey, who can afford nothing less than a win, but Terim hoped a passionate crowd would help ease any nerves. "I am making a call to all Turkish people," he said. "We want to see real passionate Turkish supporters on Wednesday against Bosnia-Herzegovina. No just spectators - real fans"
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.