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A gentle kick around "between friends"

Keystone

Two years after the physical and diplomatic spat in Istanbul, when Switzerland qualified for the World Cup at Turkey's expense, the two teams meet again in Euro 2008.

This content was published on April 25, 2008 - 15:45

Fatih Terim, the Turkish manager, says the game will be very tense – but played between friends.

In November 2005 football's governing body, Fifa, ruled that following a post-match punch-up between Swiss and Turkish players Turkey would be fined SFr200,000 ($199,000) and have to play their next six official home matches behind closed doors and on neutral ground.

Images of Terim furiously encouraging his players to physically attack Swiss players went around the world, but the adored coach managed to come out of the scandal almost scot-free.

Would you be ready if Euro 2008 started next week?

Fatih Terim: Like the 15 other teams in the competition we have our share of injuries, to Hamit Altintop or Gökhan Zan for example. The tournament is rapidly approaching and we are going to have to be ready when it matters.

The aim of the Swiss Football association is to win a European title. What is the Turkish aim?

F.T.: People have always had lofty expectations regarding Turkey. They came third in the 2002 World Cup and Galatasaray have won a Uefa Cup and a Super Cup.

Greece caused an upset when they won Euro 2004, and the Turkish fans therefore have high hopes. I can't imagine having any aim other than to win the tournament.

Switzerland have had a few problems in their warm-up matches. What is your opinion of this Swiss team?

F.T.: I think Switzerland will benefit from home advantage. That's very important. They are a good team and the results of friendlies have no bearing on how one approaches a big tournament. Friendlies are there to spot trends and correct mistakes. Many Swiss players have developed abroad.

My assistant was at the match against Germany in Basel [which Switzerland lost 4-0]. The Swiss shouldn't paint too black a picture of the situation – they have many reasons to be positive.

Group A also includes Portugal and the Czech Republic. What do you make of them?

F.T.: Portugal were runners-up in Euro 2004 and the Czech Republic appear in virtually all the main competitions. Some people think that if a group doesn't contain France, Italy or Germany it's automatically easier to qualify. But Portugal and the Czech Republic must be taken very seriously.

Anyway, there's not one weak team in the competition. Before the draw, everyone wanted to be in Austria's group, but didn't they take a 3-0 lead against the Netherlands in a friendly? [Yes they did, but they still managed to lose the match]

Did Turkey suffer after losing to Switzerland in November 2005?

F.T.: We started our qualifying matches for Euro 2008 with a massive handicap: Fifa sanctions meant we had to play behind closed doors and on neutral ground. I can still remember our own voices echoing round the stadium in Frankfurt.

That wasn't easy. And on top of that was the media criticism. Mentally the pressure was enormous. The coachers, players and football association really came together. But the lads played like gentlemen through the entire qualification – they didn't pick up a single direct red card in 12 matches.

Relations between Switzerland and Turkey have relaxed since November 2005. I want everything to run perfectly during the tournament – and peacefully. The events of November 2005 have been forgotten – we have to forge ahead.

Interview: Sven Schoch, Sportinformation in Zurich

Fatih Terim

Fatih Terim was born in Adana, Turkey, in September 1953.

Terim's professional football career began in 1969 with Adana Demirspor. As a central defender, he joined Galatasaray in 1974 and stayed for 11 years.

Terim was capped 51 times for the national side, from 1974 to 1985, and was the national team captain for 35 international games, establishing the national record for both categories at the time.

After serving as assistant national coach for three years, he became national coach in 1993.

Three years later Turkey qualified for Euro 96 – their first European tournament ever.

After Euro 96 Terim signed a contract with Galatasaray, who then won the Turkish league for four consecutive years and the Uefa Cup in 2000.

His success with Galatasaray lead Terim to Italy, signing a one-year contract with Fiorentina in 2000.

In 2001 he was named the coach of AC Milan. In 2002 he returned to Galatasaray.
In 2005 Terim returned to coach the national side.

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