Turkey go from draw in Malta to a Euro semi
On Sept. 8 2007, Turkey slumped to a 2-2 draw with minnows Malta in Euro qualifying.
The Turkish fans who made the journey to Ta’Qali would never have believed their Euro 2008 journey would take them to a first European Championship semi-final against Germany.
For most of Friday’s quarter-final with Croatia, they doubted it too.
Robbed of seven members of the 23-man squad through injury and suspension and 1-0 down as the clock hit 122 minutes, Turkey were on their way out.
The Croatians were thinking of a rematch with Germany in the semi-finals and emulating their 2-1 win in the group stages to set up a first major tournament final appearance.
But the Turks, who came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 against the Czechs in the group stage, again dug deep into their powers of recovery.
Semih Senturk’s late, late strike forced the game into penalties, and at that point there was only going to be one winner. The Croatian players looked in shock and just weren’t ready for the shootout. The excellent Luka Modric shot wide with the opening kick and Croatia crumbled.
But have Turkey peaked? Can they raise themselves again? How much longer can they continue to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat?
The task is mighty, but after their recovery in qualifying after the Malta shambles and there resilient displays over the past fortnight, no one should right off Turkey.