Triumphant Turkey coach Fatih Terim says his side can go deep into the tournament if they manage to qualify for the knockout stages as one of the four best third-placed teams at Euro 2016. (RESULTS | STANDINGS)
After limp defeats to Croatia and Spain, the Turks delivered a stunning performance full of fire and passion to defeat the Czech Republic 2-0 on Tuesday and finish third in Group D on three points, and they now face a wait until the other groups are concluded on Wednesday to see if they qualify.
Turkey have a better record than Albania, also on three points, but need one more team from the remaining two groups to finish third with an inferior record.
If they do make it, Terim says they could repeat their performance at the 2008 tournament, where they made it to the semi-finals only to lose to a last-minute goal as Germany won a thriller 3-2.
“If we advance, we can do what we did in Euro 2008, because our confidence is growing now. We have still some problems but now it’s easier to find some solutions,” he said.
“We have a good side and now we have our team spirit back. Everybody was involved. If we advance, I think we will have a long way to go.”
Goals from Burak Yilmaz and Ozan Tufan gave the Turks a victory few had predicted beforehand, with Yilmaz winning the man of the match award for his tireless display.
“I’m very happy, I scored an important goal in a very decisive game, and every thing worked very well,” he said. “It’s been a good night, a good goal for me.”
Czech coach Pavel Vrba was disappointed with his side’s exit but said the young players in his squad had learned some valuable lessons.
“Of course our goal was to qualify, and we didn’t manage that. I’m not going to say that our performance here was any good,” he told reporters.
“On the other hand, all three matches have shown that international football is very different from the Czech league – international players are
on a different level.
“This has been a great lesson for our young players, and I hope that they will use it in the next qualifier.”
For Terim, his team have finally got going, but there is still a risk that tonight’s game will be their last at the tournament.
“It’s not sure that we will advance – I hope that we will, I hope that we will not be knocked out. I would be really frustrated if we were out,” the 62-year-old said.
“But if we advance we will restart, we will reboot, and I think that we will improve. My experience tells me this.”