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Ustaömer talks up Turkey rivals

Published: Tuesday 22 April 2008, 9.00CET
Ahead of the UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals, uefa.com has spoken to all eight coaches starting today with Şenol Ustaömer of hosts Turkey.
by Türker Tozar
from Istanbul
Ustaömer talks up Turkey rivals
Turkey's long-prepared squad have been hit by injury ©TFF
Published: Tuesday 22 April 2008, 9.00CET

Ustaömer talks up Turkey rivals

Ahead of the UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals, uefa.com has spoken to all eight coaches starting today with Şenol Ustaömer of hosts Turkey.
Coach Şenol Ustaömer is expecting Turkey to be given a firm examination as UEFA European Under-17 Championship hosts – and their task is not helped by injuries to key players.

Inured pair
After two years and nearly 50 games in preparation, Ustaömer has lost two Galatasaray AS prospects on the eve of the tournament. Defender Semih Kaya is out and Cem Sultan – tipped as one of the attacking stars of the finals in Antalya – damaged knee ligaments in domestic action. Still, left-winger Eren Albayrak and striker Muhammed Demir could be fit for the 4 May kick-off against the Netherlands in Antalya, just as well considering Ustaömer's high opinion of all their Group A rivals, not just the Dutch who Turkey beat to win the 2005 final.

Serbia praise
"The teams are more or less equal," Ustaömer told uefa.com. "Everyone got through some difficult qualifying round and Elite Round groups, knocking many strong teams out of the competition. In this case, I don't want to put Netherlands on a separate plane. They are a good team for sure but Scotland and Serbia are good too. Scotland are good representatives of British football so their playing style is quite well-known to us. But what I have to underline here is the rise of Serbia at all levels of youth football. So the step they have taken so far should be watched and applauded."

Home pressure
Former Fenerbahçe SK favourite Ustaömer knows that, as hosts, there is more pressure on his players, and the coaching staff have been studying videos of all their rivals to ensure they will be in the best position to challenge for a semi-final place. "We are playing this tournament at home and this increases the importance of it for us," Ustaömer said. "We would like to finish as high as possible in this competition."

Last updated: 22/04/08 10.32CET

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