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Nihat leaves as Turkey put brave face on player plight

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 22 Jun 2008

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Turkey striker Nihat Kahveci has left his team's base in Vienna to return to Spain for treatment on the injured right thigh which has ruled him out of Wednesday's Euro 2008 semi-final with Germany.

The Turkish Football Association announced that the Villarreal forward, who picked up the injury in Friday's quarter-final win over Croatia, had said goodbye to his teammates on Sunday.

The 28-year-old has played a pivotal role in getting Turkey this far in the competition, his two late goals against the Czech Republic earning them a place in the quarter-finals.

“Before going, he sent his best wishes to the squad and wished them victory against Germany,” the TFF website said.

Turkey manager Fatih Terim is grappling with a player crisis with nine first team members either suspended or injured, those that are fit took part in a public training session at a ground in Vienna late on Sunday before their trip to Basel for Wednesday's game.

Hamit Altintop, who drove in Turkey's winning penalty in the quarter-final shoot-out win over Croatia, spoke to the media before the training session, the Gelsenkirchen-born midfielder rating Wednesday's semi-final as “50-50”.

He explained: “Of course Germany are favourites, but there's no reason why we can't beat them.

“For sure we'll miss players like Tuncay (Sanli) and Arda (Turan) but even if we have a lot of players suspended or injured others are ready and are really up for the game.

“I'm not worried at all, our strength is our collective spirit, I'm sure we can progress to the final.”

London-born Colin Kazim-Richards, known as Kazim Kazim in Turkey, rated Wednesday's clash as “one of the biggest in Turkey's history”.

The 21-year-old Fenerbahce forward rejected a suggestion that Turkey's player plight was ruining their preparations.

“Look, this is the first time Turkey has made the Euro semi-finals but we're not thinking about all the injuries and suspensions, that would just put more pressure on us,” said Kazim, who once graced the English lower league teams of Bury and Brighton.

“And I'm sure any nation would want to change places with us – even with a squad of only 14 available players.”

He added: “It's a huge game for us, against one of the favourites of the competition.”

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