Turkey will meet Sweden in a friendly football match in the southern province of Antalya on Wednesday. The friendly to be played at Antalya Stadium will kick off at 8:45 p.m. local time in Turkey. Turkey are 20th in the FIFA rankings, while Sweden are 34th. Turkey and Sweden will be competing in Europe's top-tier international football tournament, the Euro 2016, which will kick off in France on June 10. Turkey will play against Croatia, the Czech Republic and Spain in Group D. Sweden will compete against Belgium, Italy and the Republic of Ireland in Group E.
For the Turkish side, Barcelona midfielder Arda Turan is expected to shine. The former Galatasaray and Atletico Madrid regular has tallied 15 goals in 87 appearances for Turkey since Aug. 16, 2006. The 29-year-old star is also the Turkish captain.
However, Sweden captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic has decided to skip the match today. "I offered Ibrahimovic the chance to skip the match and he accepted," Sweden's coach, Erik Hamren, told a press conference on Monday. "The reason is that I want to preserve his great form … I think this is for the best." Striker Ibrahimovic, who recently secured his fourth Ligue 1 title with Paris St. Germain, scored 11 goals in 10 Euro 2016 qualifying games for the Swedes.
Swedish Football Association Chairman Karl-Erik Nilsson told Sportsmail he was not worried about traveling to Turkey despite the recent bombings in the country. "We have received the kind of guarantees from the Turkish FA [Football Association] that make us feel safe," Nilsson said. "We have received exact information about what they plan to do around the game, so provided nothing else happens, it feels safe."
Additionally, the Turkish Football Federation announced on its website that Turkey will meet Austria in a friendly match on March 29 in Vienna. The match at Ernst-Happel Stadium will kick off at 8:30 p.m. local time. Turkey last met Austria in a friendly match in 2012 at Ernst-Happel Stadium, which saw Austria win 2-0.
Meanwhile, friendly games have also taken a hit from terror attacks. Belgium's national soccer team called off a practice session in Brussels on Tuesday after the city was hit by bomb attacks. "Our thoughts are with the victims. Football is not important today, training cancelled," the Belgian soccer federation wrote on Twitter."
Belgium will host Portugal in a friendly match next Tuesday at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, where the practice was scheduled for 4:30 p.m. local time. The game is a warmup for both teams ahead of this year's European Championship, and the Portuguese soccer federation said it was in contact with Belgian authorities about security arrangements for the match. Belgium captain Vincent Kompany wrote on Twitter that he was "horrified and revolted" by the attacks. "I wish for Brussels to act with dignity. We are all hurting, yet we must reject hate and its preachers. As hard as it may be. #Brussels," Kompany wrote.
Three explosions early Tuesday at the Brussels' Zaventem Airport and the Maelbeek metro station near European Union offices were claimed by the DAESH terror group. At least 31 people died and around 190 were wounded. One international soccer player was at airport where two explosions were reported. Norwich forward Dieumerci Mbokani, who is from the Congo, was "unharmed but shaken by the tragic events," the English club said in a statement.
Belgium is now on the highest terror alert ahead of cycling's peak season for one-day classic road races, including the Tour of Flanders on April 3. The spring season starts Wednesday with the Dwars door Vlaanderen (Across Flanders) race, which covers a 200 kilometer route around Waregem in western Belgium. Organizers met with police on Tuesday, and later said in a statement the second-tier race would go ahead as planned.
It was unclear if all riders and team officials intending to travel via Brussels airport would be able to arrive for the race.
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