India is all set to host the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, scheduled to kick off on 6th October. 24 countries from six confederations will be competing for one of the biggest honours in youth football with the matches being held in six cities across the country.
In this segment, we take a look at Turkey's U-17 team and guide you through their journey to the world cup, highlighting their achievements, key players, coach and much more.
Confederation: UEFA (Europe)
Nicknames: The Crescent-Stars
Coach: Mehmet Hacioglu
PAST RECORDS AND LAURELS
Controlled by the Turkish Football Federation, the Under-17 side of Turkey has made two appearances at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in the years 2005 and 2009. In their debut participation at the youth football's mega-event, the Turkish team earned themselves a respectable fourth place finish. However, in 2009, the Turks failed to proceed beyond the quarter-finals as they lost 5-3 on penalties to Colombia.
Apart from their World Cup record, The Crescent-Stars have often, in the past, made a mark in the UEFA U-17 European Championship. Turkey reached the semi-finals on three occasions - in 2008, 2010 and 2017 editions of the tournament. However, their best result in the competition has been their championship victory in the 2005 chapter of the contest held in Italy which saw them get the better of Netherlands in a 2-0 victory. 2005 was a year to remember for the transcontinental country as two of their players bagged individual awards- Tevfik Kose was given the title for top scorer for his six goals whereas current Borussia Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin was handed the Golden Player award in the European youth championship.
ROAD TO U-17 WORLD CUP
In the 2017 UEFA European Championship held in Croatia, Turkey was drawn with Spain, Italy and home side Croatia in Group A. Their two victories against Croatia and Italy in the group stage were enough to send them through to the knockout phase where they secured a 1-0 victory versus Hungary. This confirmed their place at 2017 U-17 World Cup before suffering a 2-1 defeat by England in the semi-final. Striker Malik Karaahmet scored the most number of goals (three) for his side in the 369 minutes he played.
PREPARATIONS AHEAD OF THE MEGA-EVENT
Turkey participated in the St. George’s Park Tournament in England where they battled against the likes of England, Italy and Scotland. On 19th August, in the tie against The Young Lions, the Turks fell prey to the hosts in a 3-2 result which saw Atalay Yildirim and Ali Yavuz Kol on the scoresheet for Turkey. They failed to turn around the result in the next two fixtures as well as the Italian and the Scottish side defeated them 2-0 each.
Mehmet Hacioglu, a 57-year-old born in Bulgaria, is in charge of Turkey's under-17 side. Hacioglu has led the youth team of the Turks since 2014. He has played professional football earlier in his career with Fenerbahce before eventually moving to a managerial role with sides such as the Feners’ U-20s.