Monday, July 15, 2024

Turkiye target 2026 as Ozcan and Calhanoglu express pride after Euro 2024 exit

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 6 Jul 2024

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Turkiye will target a deep run at the 2026 World Cup after leaving Euro 2024 with their heads held high, say midfield duo Salih Ozcan and Hakan Calhanoglu.

Turkiye were on course for a semi-final against England when Samet Akaydin’s header put them 1-0 up against the Netherlands in Saturday’s last-eight clash.

However, two goals in six second-half minutes, the first a Stefan de Vrij header and the second a Mert Muldur own goal, turned the game on its head as the Oranje advanced.

Turkiye missed several good chances to level late on, recording more shots (15 to 11) and expected goals (1.29 to 0.97 xG) than their opponents.

Having won plenty of admirers en route to the last eight, Ozcan says Turkiye will take the lessons of this tournament into the World Cup in two years’ time.

“We are very sad. I want to thank the team, everyone did their best. It’s hard to find words right now,” Ozcan said. “I am very proud of the team. Now our target is 2026.

“We are all emotional, we want to thank our fans, the amazing support we got. They carried us from match to match, their support was very important for us.”

Captain Calhanoglu, who led all Turkiye players for passes attempted (52) and completed (48), as well as recoveries (seven) on Saturday, said: “Unfortunately, we could only make it this far.

“I am happy if we could bring excitement to our nation. Of course, we wanted to continue on this path.

“Unfortunately there is also losing in football. I would like to once again thank all our fans. We didn’t start the second half well, we retreated.

“These things happen in the game. I am proud to have come this far. Everyone represented their country in the best possible way. I would like to thank all my team-mates.”

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