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Senol Gunes’ young Turkish side are hoping to upset hosts Italy in Friday’s Euro 2020 opener in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.
« On paper they seem better than us but you never know what can happen on the pitch and I hope we’ll have some points in our pockets at the end of the match, » said Gunes, who led Turkey to third in the 2002 World Cup in a previous stint with the national side before rejoining two years ago.
« There will be a lot to learn during this tournament, only three players have already played in a Euro, » continued the 69-year-old.
« It will be a testing ground for us, but in 2002 we also had a team with a lot of players who had not played in the World Cup before, anything is possible.
« If we lose this game we know the balance in the group will change a lot, » he added of a Group A which also includes Switzerland and Wales.
Gunes has crossed paths with Italy’s Roberto Mancini who coached Turkish side Galatasary for a season winning the 2014 Turkish Cup with the Istanbul club
« Mancini knows Turkey having worked for Galatasary, he’s an experienced coach with talented players, » he estimated.
Turkey’s Italy based players include AC Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu, Sassuolo’s Mert Muldur and Kaan Ayhan and Juventus’s Merih Demiral.
« We respect the Azzurri we know they’re a very good players but we’re also a young side, » said Calhanoglu.
« Tomorrow night’s match will be special for us and especially for me as we play in Italy. It will be a pleasure to meet some of my teammates.
« We’ve waited a long time for this and hope to represent Turkey as best we can. »
Turkey first qualified to play Euros in 1996, reaching the knockout stages in 2000 from a group with Italy, Belgium and Sweden, before losing to Portugal in the quarter-finals.
After failing to qualify in 2004, they finished third in Euro 2008, missing out on playing the following edition, before losing in the group stage in 2016.
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