While their UEFA European Under-17 Championship semi-final opponents Spain sailed through with three wins, Turkey drew and lost their last group games in Liechtenstein, but ahead of Thursday's knockout encounter in Vaduz, Turkey winger Okan Derıcı warned: "If we play well, nobody can stop us."
Turkey started their campaign with a 3-1 defeat of Greece but then were held 1-1 by the Czech Republic, and although Okan gave them the lead against England on Monday, they went on to lose 2-1. Still, they finished second in Group B and Eintracht Frankfurt player Okan believes the 2005 European U17 champions can stop Spain's run.
"Spain are not a very physical team, but they are very skilful," Okan told UEFA.com. "
It is not important how strong or skilful they are though; what matters is how well we play. If we play well, nobody can stop us."
Okan admits that in the second half against England his side "didn't play very well" but can take pleasure from their overall performance in the finals and his goal in the last group game, a header that finished off an intricate corner move. "We practice a lot of corners," Okan said. "This one fell very well for me; it came exactly where it should have done. "
Whereas against England Okan was the goalscorer, it was in his role as creator that he starred in the opening fixture, producing a superb run and cross to set up striker Artun Akçakin to make it 2-0. Artun has scored three goals for Turkey here, but it is in his role as captain that Okan particularly looks up to his team-mate.
"He is very important for the team," Okan said. "He is a very good captain. He motivates us and talks to us a lot. Our coach gives us a lot of information and motivates us, but when he is not there, the captain is on the pitch and keeps us up for it."
As for senior players, Okan sees himself in the mould of two Turkish favourites. "I take as my role model Hakan Şükür due to his personality and temperament – he was calm when he had the ball, like me," Okan said. "In terms of playing style, Mesut Özil. My friends also compare me to him. He sees the game in a very broad way and I can too. I also like Andrés Iniesta and Xavi Hernández very much."
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