Turkey starts a new journey toward Euro 2020 this weekend with two friendlies against Ireland and Montenegro. After a disastrous World Cup qualification campaign, the Turkish national team underwent some serious changes. Now, the team is made up of mostly young and promising players, with the average age of the team just 25. While 25 may not sound too young, key players like Cengiz Ünder, Enes Ünal, Yusuf Yazıcı and Hakan Çalhanoğlu are all under 23.
Therefore, the national team coach Mircea Lucescu has some good, young talents to work with. What the team should now focus on is devising a game plan that can bring the best out of these group and the upcoming friendlies look like the perfect starting point.
But first, there are some fundamental questions that we must ask ourselves: What do we expect of the Turkish national team? Do we merely expect them to qualify for the next tournament or do we want them to compete for the top over the years? Throughout the history of Turkish football, unfortunately, the go-to answer has always been a qualification; as it happened with Lucescu, when he arrived close to the end of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. The immense pressure of getting the tickets to major tournaments always push coaches to make reactionary moves that serve only short-term goals.
This time, however, both Lucescu and the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) must show how much they are willing to invest in the future. There are no immediate competitions that might push them toward sacrificing any long-term goals. If we look at history, this might be the right time to concentrate on a new generation of footballers who can play for titles in the long-run because shortsighted plans and cheap tactics, over the years, have only brought us the odd win here and there. Turkish football has reached a point where this is not any longer satisfactory and needs future investments to change the status quo.
We may not know TFF's take on all these since its statements and actions are often contradicting, but what we can do is assess Turkey's two upcoming games to see whether it is headed in the right direction.
We should look out for the team's effort in building games and whether it is ready to sacrifice short-term results for long-term successes. This will be very crucial because whenever Turkey arrives at a point of development (a moment when you might take a beating), it never sees through the plan and always backtracks for short-term goals.
This time though it does not have to be the case, given that Turkey has some good prospects for a competitive game. All they need is time and dedication, the rest will eventually follow.
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