Turkey take a break from their qualifying for the 2010 World Cup with a friendly double header against two teams of varying difficulty.
Fatih Terim’s men face Estonia in September as they look to qualify for South Africa next year, and will face Azerbaijan on Tuesday at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium before travelling to the Stade de Gerland to take on France on Friday.
On paper, Azerbaijan – nicknamed Odlar Yurdu, or the ‘land of fire’ – are the simpler of the two games for Terim’s charges. Their last six games have brought four defeats and two draws against Uzbekistan and Albania, and are managed by former Scotland manager Berti Vogts.
Whilst the majority of Azerbaijan’s squad are relative unknown in world football, at least one player will be well known to Turkey’s scouts ahead of their meeting.
Azerbaijan captain Rəşad Farhad Sadygov, a 26-year-old defender nicknamed ‘Terminator’ by the local media, plays his club football in Turkey for Kocaelispor, who won the Turkish cup as recently as 2002.
The parallels between the minnows of Azerbaijan and the giants of France stretch far beyond their pedigree on the football field, however. Azerbaijan’s all-time record goalscorer is Qurban Osman Qurbanov, with twelve goals – France’s striker Nicolas Anelka won the golden boot in the Premier League this season with nineteen.
Captain Thierry Henry is arguably France’s best known player and is fresh from winning the treble with Barcelona, and rumoured £40m Real Madrid target Franck Ribéry will be in the squad against Turkey.
Turkey skipper Tuncay is expected to feature as he looks to put the disappointment of Middlesbrough’s Premier League relegation behind him.
Turkey (possible): Demirel, Cetin, Zan, Asik, Sarioglu, Emre, Turan, Balta, Gonul, Tuncay (capt), Senturk.