Ömer Kaner made his name in football but in less than six years has led Turkey's new futsal team to the EURO finals and is determined the outsiders will make their mark.
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A striker and later coach at Fenerbahçe SK, Ömer Kaner took charge of the new Turkey futsal team in 2006 and is about to lead them in their first major finals at UEFA Futsal EURO 2012. Wins against Belgium and Hungary made Turkey the first side ever to reach the European championship after starting their campaign in the preliminary round, and although they will be outsiders in Group C against Italy and Russia, the 60-year-old is determined Turkey will give their best.
UEFA.com: Congratulations on reaching the finals; what are your thoughts on your group?
Ömer Kaner: It's a real success that we are here, and it will be a good experience for us too – it's a very, very nice family, the futsal family. But the group I think is very, very difficult, because two of the best teams are in our section. But I'm delighted just to be here at the European finals and we will give our best. We will show that we can play futsal.
UEFA.com: Your players are not so well-known to futsal fans; will these finals change that?
Kaner: Yes, of course. We have players that play in the Netherlands and in Belgium, and we also have 128 futsal teams in Turkey. We will have a good team in Croatia. Cihan Özcan, for example, is one of our best goalscorers, then we have Burak Yıldırım and Aziz Sağlam – they are good players. They will show that they can play very, very good futsal.
UEFA.com: What made you switch from football to futsal?
Kaner: Five years ago, my boss showed me a ball and he said: 'Do you know what this is?' I said: 'A ball?' It was a futsal ball. I said I have played indoors a lot of times, but I learned that futsal is different. I went to Belgium, I watched teams, how they were training, I spoke to Brazilians – I have a lot of friends – and so I'm in futsal now and we are here.