Turkey coach Fatih Terim on Wednesday announced his squad for the Euro 2016 finals spearheaded by foreign-based star midfielders Arda Turan (main pix) and Hakan Calhanoglu, saying the team was aiming for the highest possible outcome.
Announcing the squad on state-run TRT Sporttelevision, Terim said he was expecting great things from his side despite being drawn in a challenging Group D.
Eight players will be cut from the provisional 31-man squad on May 31, when the final line-up of 23 going to France will be announced.
Talismanic captain Arda Turan, who joined Barcelona this season after a glorious spell at Atletico Madrid, will be hungry for success after spending much of a frustrating time so far with the Catalan giants on the bench.
He will be joined in the midfield by Calhanoglu of Bayer Leverkusen, one of few Turkish-origin players born in Germany to opt for their ancestral country.
Terim has reshuffled the goalkeeping contingent with Volkan Babacan, who enjoyed a sparkling season with Istanbul’s Basaksehir, the clear number one out of four keepers in line to go to France.
There is no longer a place for Turkey’s longstanding keeper Volkan Demirel of Fenerbahce, whose international career may now be over.
In attack, much will depend on striker Cenk Tosun who helped his Istanbul side Besiktas to their first Turkish league title since 2009 earlier this month.
Terim has also called up experienced striker Burak Yilmaz despite concerns he may have lost his sharpness since joining Beijing Guoan from Galatasaray earlier this season.
The manager’s most intriguing choice is young winger Emre Mor, aged just 18, who was born in Denmark, plays for Nordsjaelland but has opted to play for Turkey after representing his country of birth at youth level.
“I think he is a player out of the ordinary,” said Terim. “I decided to give him a chance and Turkey can gain a very interesting player.”
Terim, by far the most respected coach in Turkey and known to his admirers at the “Emperor”, implied his team had the simple aim of winning the tournament.
“Playing in the final is not for me a criterion of success,” he said. “If possible, we have the very highest aim.”
But he acknowledged that Turkey’s Group D — also including reigning champions Spain, Croatia and the Czech Republic — could be termed a “group of death”.
“I think that we have fallen into one of the two strongest groups,” he said.
But had said Turkey would be a “real obstacle” for any side at the tournament.
Terim batted away speculation he could be returning to club management at Galatasaray after their disastrous season saying “there is nothing else on my mind now other than the national team”.
A key test of the strength of Terim’s team comes at the weekend when they face England in Manchester.
Turkey squad for Euro 2016:
Goalkeepers: Volkan Babacan (Medipol Basaksehir), Onur Recep Kivrak (Trabzonspor), Ali Sasal Vural (Eskisehirspor), Harun Tekin (Bursaspor)
Defence: Gokhan Gonul, Sener Ozbayrakli, Caner Erkin, Mehmet Topal (Fenerbahce), Caglar Soyuncu (Altinordu), Hakan Kadir Balta, Semih Kaya (Galatasaray), Serdar Aziz (Bursaspor), Ismail Koybasi (Besiktas), Ahmet Yilmaz Calik (Genclerbirligi)
Midfield: Selcuk Inan, Yasin Oztekin (Galatasaray), Emre Mor (Nordsjaelland), Ozan Tufan, Alper Potuk, Volkan Sen (Fenerbahce), Oguzhan Ozyakup, Olcay Sahan, Gokhan Tore (Besiktas), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen), Nuri Sahin (Borussia Dortmund), Mahmut Tekdemir (Medipol Basaksehir), Arda Turan (Barcelona)
Forwards: Burak Yilmaz (Beijing Guoan), Cenk Tosun (Besiktas), Yunus Malli (Mainz 05), Mevlut Erdinc (Guingamp)
– Agence France-Presse