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Sunday, 13 April 2014

FK MLADOST PODGORICA (ex: OFK Titograd, or ex: FK Mladost Titograd)

(April 5, 2014 – Podgorica)

FK Mladost is not a team from Bosnia, but from Montenegro. However, I believe that those who are interested in Bosnian football culture would also enjoy reading something about football in Montenegro. Apparently, both countries have common political, historical and cultural traits, and having a common Yugoslav past is one of the important junctions where both countries share similar patterns in football culture.
Çemovsko Polje and the surrounding Dinaric Alps.
When compared with the scale of the country, Montenegro has a relatively successful national football team. They ranked at 3rd place behind England and Ukraine in FIFA 2014 qualifying group chalking up a total 15 points. The other teams in the group were Poland, Moldova and San Marino. On the other side Montenegrin football league is considered as one of the low quality one according to UEFA ranking where they stand at 42nd place above Liechtenstein and below Iceland. But they are a bit better this season, since they were at 43rd place last year.
Years ago, Botaşspor from Adana (Southern Turkey) the sports club of the Iraq-Turkey crude petrol pipeline company, which was quite famous with Women Basketball Team, where I also was a licensed swimmer for a while, decided to establish a football club. As was the case for the female basketball team, the first players of the football team were the children of the employees of the company. Although we moved from Adana to Ankara in 1987, I used to keep on spending overall one month of a year as part of my winter and summer holidays in Adana, in Botaş. Like any other teenager, I was playing football with my friends just before the sunset, when the Mediterranean sun was just to lose its sharpness. From time to time, we used to watch the training matches of Botaşspor.

There was a player in the team. Let’s keep his name anonymous and use a nick name: Orhan. Orhan was a good player; he was playing with his heart. But his passion was causing him to leave his territory from time to time which was making the trainer a bit mad about it. Trainer calls him: “Orhan!” Orhan does not hear. Trainer increases his voice: “Orhaaan!” No reply from Orhan. Trainer calls him with his voice at optimum level: “ORHAAAAAN, to whom I am calling hah?!” Finally, Orhan turns his face to trainer: “What the f.ck!” Surely, an unexpected reply from the player which makes the spectators to laugh a lot, and trainer is unsurprisingly calm: “You will see the f.ck”.

After many years, a similar scene in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro takes me to the memories…
FK Mogren Budva is playing against the team of the capital city; FK Mladost Podgorica. The defender right wing player of Mogren is a handsome young man. He does not play bad. His timing in interference, his sense of keeping ground is quite well but he just looks a little bit unserious. His hand is always on his shorts, pulling it down in search for following low-hip fashion trend. His levity makes the trainer mad. Trainer calls him: “Jovane”. Jovan does not hear. Trainer increases his voice: “Jovaneeee!” No reply from Jovan. Trainer calls him with his voice at optimum level: “JOVANEEEEEEE?!” Finally, Jovan turns his face to trainer: “Jebote Jovane.” (F.ck your Jovan) We laugh in the rows and the trainer silently goes back to benches.

Mogren was leading the match 1-0 away when this anecdote appeared, which took me to memories. However, at the end Mogren lost 3-2 and I do not have an idea what kind of communication occurred between Jovan and trainer in the dressing room.
Geographical location of Montenegro and the mountains topography of the country.
 (Spurce: freeworldmaps.net)
Montenegro is a small country. Just about 13 thousand square kilometers. But distances are far. Deserving the name, Montenegro is surrounded by high and sharp rocky mountains.

When I left Sarajevo ahead to Podgorica, to attend the conference organized by Montenegrin Academy of Sports, (http://www.sportmont.ucg.ac.me/conference2014/) I already had a pre-vision that it would be a journey that would stem some nostalgic memories. One night before, when I checked the web site of the bus company I was quite surprised that O303 Mercedes buses, which were produced in early 1990’s in Turkey were still in charge in intercity roads, even in inter-national routes.



When I was in the bus station in the morning, another surprise was waiting for me. I would not be travelling to Podgorica from Sarajevo by a bus, but by a midibus for seven hours! The midibus was one of the first exemplars of Iveco which were produced by Otoyol in Turkey in 1990’s.

Since for a long time I do not calculate the distances in Balkans in terms of kilometers. If so, then it is very likely that you may face some small surprises. You have to take notice on duration of the travel rather than the distance. Then, for example, the 250 kilometers of travel which will take seven hours will not make you to be psychologically tired of travelling. It is not only the vehicle which makes the duration longer, but also the topography. Montenegro really deserves her name and curvy road through the sharp mountains is not an exception. But what a panoramic view!

On the contrary to general topography of Montenegro, Podgorica was established on a plain. The name Podgorica means “Down the Mount Gorica”. Podgorica is located a flat plain, but surrounded by mountains.

Road to Podgorica from Sarajevo by the bench of River Piva.
One of the numerous tunnels on the road.

The population of Podgorica is almost 170 thousands. But it is a capital city! According to tourist guides, it is a waste of time to visit Podgorica. Indeed, the city was not of importance before Tito Era, with a population of 10-15 thousands. The city’s population had dramatically increased in Tito era, while the city’s name was replaced to Titograd; City of Tito.

Podgorica stays under the shadow of Montenegro’s tourist attracted historical cities on the coast like Budva, Kotor, and Herceg Novi. Podgorica does not have a coast, the night life is stagnant and the life is without any spirit after 23:00 and for sure, only one from Ankara, which shares the same attributions, may enjoy Podgorica.

Podgorica should be loved. If one wants to claim that he/she has been in Montenegro, he/she has to visit Podgorica. Moreover, he/she should make a journey through those mountains to Serbia or to Bosnia, preferably with those outdated buses. Only than he/she can claim that he/she has been in Podgorica.
The University of Montenegro arranged a tour in the last day of the symposium to a historical monastery about 15 kilometers to the city center. Some colleagues did not want to miss the opportunity to visit the historical temple. What a coincidence that, at that time there was a football match in Podgorica as well. Certainly, the temple of a football fan is not a monastery! To be honest, I have to confess that I had a dilemma between going to the football match, and going to that historical monastery. The other day, I have realized that experiencing a city in my case began to be limited only to experience the gastronomic and footballist affluences. I am slightly considering making a change. Probably it would be easier for me to retreat from different tastes but footbalism is a difficult to be treated sickness. That, frankly speaking, even before leaving from Sarajevo I took the notes about matches to be played in Montenegro, and I have to confess that it was not coincidence.

While my colleagues were on the way to the historical monastery, I was already in Çemovsko Polje (Çemovsko plain), which also known as the Stari Aerodrom (old airport). 

Montenegrin First League involves 12 teams. FK Mladost Podgorica is the 10th on the table with 23 points, and will play against FK Mogren Budva 11th on the table with 22 points. The other team of the capital city; FK Buduçnost will have an away match against Rudar Pljevlija, a team from Sandjak region on the North of Montenegro. Rudar means “miner” which already evokes sympathy. Pljevlija is also like the homeland of my wife’s father’s side. 

Buduçnost is the leading team of Podgorica. They do not play their matches in plain or on meadow, but in the biggest stadium of the city; “Podgorica Stadium”. In fact, Buduçnost have always been supported by the city elites. I do not know if they have got a story of being promoted to a higher league by military regime but they always had more fans than Mladost. (1) The colors of the team are navy blue and white. If it would be yellow instead of white, it would be more ironical. The “other” team has the red color. (2) The more striking fact is the name of the team with the red color: Mladost Podgorica means Youth of Podgorica, also resembles that of Gençlerbirliği, which literally means Union of Juvenile or Union of Youth. Is it possible that a man from Ankara, a fan of Gençlerbirliği will not have some passion towards that team?

Next to the 1500 capacity stadium of Mladost in Çemovsko Polje, there is the management building and training field of Buduçnost.

The rows are not full just before the match. There are around 150 fans that came to watch the match in a rainy day.

Mladost playing against Mogren. Behin the pitch the administrative building of Buducnost on the left, and their training fild behind, and Mladost's administrative building on the right.

FK Mladost was established in 1950 with the name FK Mladost Titograd. The name was changed into OFK Titograd (Olympic Football Club) in 1960. In 1990, the name was turned into Mladost again. But this time the name Titograd was replaced with Podgorica due to change in city’s name. The biggest success of Mladost in Yugoslav Football League was a fourth rank in the second division in 1956-57. Mladost’s history is the story of relegations to third division, and promotion to second division. During Miloşeviç’s Yugoslavia, when only the teams from Serbia and Montenegro participated in the Yugoslav league, they succeeded to be fourth in the second division twice during the last two seasons. 

Since Montenegro became independent in 2006, their biggest success was to be the fifth rank in 2010-11, but it has to be noticed that in even the miniature Montenegrin football league, they have played in second division for two years.

This season have historical contributions to the club’s history: For the first time in history, Mladost participated in European cups. They have passed Hungarian Videoton after the first qualification matches, and Slovakian FK Senica after the second qualification matches of the UEFA Europa League. But in the third qualification, they have crashed into Spain’s famous Sevilla after 6-1 home and 3-0 away defeats. This season, FK Mladost Podgorica struggles not to be relegated to the second division of Montenegro.

In this context, the match Mogren and Mladost is a match for “6 points”. If they will lose, Mogren will be two points above Mladost. If not, than the difference between two teams will increase to five points which will be a great advantage for Mladost.

Wandering around the club’s building, I meet with a veteran player of Mladost. I had a short football chat with him. I asked him about the hero of my teenager years; Dejan Saviçeviç. The legendary player of legendary Red Star who won the UEFA Cup in 1991, who has been the chairman of the Montenegrin Football Association since the independency of Montenegro. I was trembled when I heard that Dejan Saviçeviç would come to watch the match the match since his son is playing for Mladost. How is it possible not to tremble! Is it possible to forget a legendary player who was first playing in Red Star and then in Milan, and the reason behind my choice to be manager of Milan in the earliest versions of the “Championship Manager”? How delightful would it be to meet with him after years!

The famous driblings of the legendary Savicevic:


The unforgettable part of the interview with Savicevic in Zagreb:

As soon as I had the information, I went to VIP section. I will do my best to meet with Savicevic. It was not that much difficult to enter in the VIP section. A club officer on duty asked me:”Where are you going?” Relying on the sympathy of speaking his language as a foreigner, I asked him if I could watch the match in VIP since it is raining and it is the only covered part of the stadium. He asks where I was from, and I replied: “I am Turkish but I live in Sarajevo”. Probably it is not very common to see some Turks coming to visit to watch a match of Mladost. He turns to VIP tribune and asks the oldies in the tribune if there is a place for a Turk. The VIP tribune, almost full of elder fans is a bit surprised but yet hospitable. They even gave me a piece of newspaper to put over the seat. What a VIP tribune! I feel almost like among the “ihtiyarlar” (oldies) in Gençlerbirliği tribunes. I seat in between footballcholic oldies which are like our Hamdi Reis, Necdet Abi and Ozan Abi.  
The "oldies" in Mladost tribune.

...and our oldies.
Before coming to the match I have had a basic research about Mladost in web and learned that the fans of Mladost call themselves “Romanticari” (Romantics). I asked to one of the oldies if he is “romantic”. The reply is simple and clear: “I do not know, ask it to my wife”.

Oldies are a bit curious about me. It can be considered as a normal act to visit Podgorica for a symposium, but it was quite difficult for me to convince them that the one and only aim of mine to come to Çemovsko Polje in a rainy day is to watch a match. They are quite stubborn to assume that I am a scout. I somehow managed to tell the truth in difficulty. In the meantime, rain quites down and the rows on the left and right side of the VIP section begin to welcome fans. It seems the 150-200 fans overall do not enjoy disturbing the football players. They are so calm during the match. 

Maybe they do not like to cheer for the team, but they watched the game with an optimum attention during the whole match. Different than what I usually do, instead of watching the fans, I decide to watch the game on the pitch.

During the first quarter of the match, Mogren seemed to be more effective. The Yugoslav school of football could heavily be felt. Both of the teams prefer to make short passes in their own side of the pitch and try to aim goal with long, side balls and whenever they lose the ball in those attacks, they do not hesitate to make Yugoslav fault. Despite the position in the European ranking, both teams perform a very tough game, but still in a virtuous style. The young players from both of the teams play not only with their muscles, but also with their brains and with their hearts. However, Mogren players seem to be a bit more willing. I get the information that Mogren club could not pay the salaries of football players for a long time, since the club passes through serious financial problems

Mogren players were able to use the ball with vertical and cross passes in their own half of the pitch. Since they realized that Mladost players were not as willing as they are, they began to organize the game closer to the midfield, going forward as a block. The left wing defender Luka Pejovic, with the dress number 16 was a key player for the fast attacks. In fact he is one of the most experienced players in the team: 29 years old and has a national squad experience in his career.

Although Mogren was more effective in the first half of the game, the player of Mladost with the dress number 9 began to take my attention as well. During rare attacks of Mladost, this young man creates serious problems alone for Mogren defense. I got some information from the fans about him that his name is Stefan Mugoşa and he is recognized as the best player in the squad. The 22 years old Mugoşa have 5 appearances in U-21 squad of the Montenegrin national football team, scoring 3 goals. (3) He took part in the squad of Montenegrin national football team as a substitute when Montenegro lost 2-5 against Moldova at home on October 15, 2013. Mugoşa plays as an attacking midfielder and takes attention with his self-confident, modest posture. I have learned that Red Star is keeping an eye on him, but it is also know that the Belgrade team also has serious financial problems.

Stefan Mugosa:


Another player who takes my attention in Mladost is Radule Zivkovic whose dress number is 2 and reminds me legendary right wing defender of Beşiktaş; Recep Çetin aka Takoz (chock) Recep who was the best right wing defender in his time and he was recognized by his tough tackles which would not allow left wing attackers to pass him. Like Takoz Recep, Zivkovic does not hesitate to send the ball as far as possible by kicking the bottom part of the ball and his strong posture with relatively short height and wide chest with a similar appearance to those Irish boxers reminds him more like Takoz Recep.

Vladimir Savicevic, the son of legendary player Dejan Savicevic, with dress number 10 is at the focus of Mladost fans. I am curious if he is playing in the team because he has talent, or is it thanks to his father. Fans claim that he is really good, but I could not witness it during the match.

Mogren had a rapid start in the second half of the game. By 56th minute they were just to score the first goal of the match. Just two minutes after that they found it by Milan Durisic. They even missed a very close goal. After the goal, Mogren players show signs to be exhausted or not any more willing.

Until then, the right wing defender of Mogren with dress number 15 was also taking attention with his performance. He has a very good timing and he is very good in sweeping the ball from his zone. His name is Jovan Baoşiç, whom I have quoted above his reply to the trainer of the team. Although he was playing well, minutes passing by, he loses his seriousness in the game. He is just 19 years old, at the beginning of his career, but since he loses his seriousness, his performance in the game declines. And during the last half an hour of the game, the left wing for Mladost attackers turns to be a free-to-pass corridor. The trainer of the team asks him: “Jovane, hoçeş li kafu?” means “Jovan, do you want a coffee?”

Sun shows its face in the second half and had a vitalizing effect on the players, but it seems that it has only affected Mladost players. Finally by the 72nd minute Mugoşa, the star of Mladost denests the ball among two Mogren defenders and scores with a nice short drop shot into the net.  Just 6 minutes after that goal, he scores one more with a head kick to a cross coming from the right wing and  shows that 189 centimeter tall Mugoşa is also not bad with high balls. It is now 2-1.

Mogren is under shock, but it is not enough. Just one minute after this goal, Mugoşa scores one more and reaches hat-trick within 7 minutes and carries his team to 3-1 from 0-1. The man of the game Mugoşa scored three goals, but it seems he does not lose anything from his posture, goes on playing serious and keeps his modesty. On the other side, it is visible that his stamina is not that good.
In 90+2, Durisic, the scorer player of Mogren scores for his team but it is too much late to turn the game, which results with a 3-2 victory for the home team Mladost.

My biggest expectation from the match was not realized. Probably, because of the rainy weather, Dejan Savicevic did not come to watch the game, but my heart begins to beat for another team from Balkans. Moreover, in this small country, I had the joy to watch the match with a handful of nice and kind people who are in love with a modest team.
PS 1) This ironic paragraph refers to rivalry between Gençlerbirliği and Ankaragücü in Turkey’s capital city. Gençlerbirliği had always been a smaller club with less fan support and Ankaragücü has always been more popular club of the city. Military regime’s efforts to promote Ankaragücü to the top league in Turkey have also to be noticed to perceive the irony behind those sentences.

PS 2) Refers to the colors of Ankaragücü which are yellow and navy blue, and Gençlerbirliği has black-red.

PS 3) During the days when I was writing this article, Tanıl Bora, a significant intellectual in Turkey, who writes every Tuesday to Turkish daily newspaper Radikal about football, wrote an article titled: “Establish a team, with less Scorpio, and more Cancer” about the relationship between astrology and football. A quotation from the article: “The squad of Gençlerbirliği is full of Pisces (Ahmet, Gosso, Nizamettin, Petroviç, Yusuf Emre). Diagnosis for those Pisces who play in their position: A type of a player who can do any job which is needed, can be a multidirectional player, or can get lost if he will not able to find his position”

Maguşa’s birthdate is February 26, 1992. A Pisces. I do not believe in astrology, but would be good for those who believe in astrology to know that.

PS 4) When I was writing this article, Mladost and Mogren played again in Podgorica on April 9, 2014 for the first leg of the semi-final of the Montenegrin Cup and Mladost was victorious again with 2-0. One of the goals was from Mugoşa.


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

SLAVEN BILIC


Last week, just after the leave of Carvalhal from Beşiktaş when the Turkish newspapers mentioned about a probable transfer of Slaven Bilic, I immediately checked the Croatian newspapers to check the rumors. As well known, when the issue is about “transfer” or media is more likely to publish fantastic fictive stories than real news. However, the rumors were verified by Croatian newspapers as well, that Biliç had declared he might think about joining Beşiktaş, following the European Football Championship.

 I have a sort of sympathy to Slaven Biliç, since I used a photo of him for an article in this blog that I have written just after the Turkey-Croatia match in Wien in 2008. For some reason, the sorrow in Biliç’s face, and his attempts to solace the tear drops of his footballers seemed to be very ingenuous to me. After the loss of Croatia by penalty kicks, Biliç’s attempts to solace his players like a brother was noticed very clearly. Like a brother, but not like a godfather, which is the usual visage that we, Turkish football fans are familiar to see on Turkish trainers?
Three years after, almost five and a half months before now, when Turkey and Croatia were rooted in play-off match for the European Football Championship, referring to what I have written previosly in my blog, I wrote another article relying on a review of Turkish and Croatian newspapers.
I came up with an interesting thing: Turkish newspapers were mentioning about Croats fear of this draw because of their unforgettable unpleasant experience in 2008. When I checked the newspapers from Croatia, I have seen the cheers for “revenge” and I have seen how they were happy to have the opportunity for the revenge after three years. Among this atmosphere of revenge, Slaven Biliç was distinguished with his speeches free of any hatred discourse. He was mentioning the quality of Turkish team, but emphasizing that Croatia was a better team. He even had uttered the opportunity to take the revenge but even that was not enough for the Croatian media who blamed him to be coward. However, the cool speech of Biliç away from a hatred discourse made my sympathy towards him to increase.
When I checked his career, I have seen that I was not wrong about my views on Biliç. The young trainer, who was born in 1968 was shined when he was playing as a defender in Hajduk Split, in the most brilliant era of Yugoslav football. He was transferred to Karlsruhe with a transfer fee of 750.000 Pounds. After a successful three years experience in Karlsruhe, he had gone to West Ham United with a transfer fee of 1.3 million Pounds. When West Ham was struggling not to relegate, he was offered a transfer of 4.5 million Pounds to Everton. However, he refused this offer until August mentioning that he could not leave his team in the middle of the season.   
They say, “One who only claims to know football, does not know football either.” Biliç, a graduate of Faculty of Law, who plays in rock groups from time to time, has a distinct character who does not limit his life with football. Thus,  his vision of football goes beyond imagination of many others. Unlike the Croatian nationalist leader Franjo Tudjman who stated that the football victories, like wars do shape the identity of a nation, Biliç has a different perspective on football. He is aware of football’s character as a game, as a part of entertainment and just before the 2008 European Football Championship, he said: “With the greatest respect to women, football is the most beautiful thing in the world.”
Football has a vital role in shaping the Croatian national identity. Croatia can be regarded as one of the countries where football is exploited widely by extreme nationalism. Within this occasion, even his endeavor to be away from heroic statements is itself is a positive attitude. Does it mean that Biliç may not be nationalist? Obviously not. But at least we cannot get the reply of question through his statements. Considering what kind of a nationalist pressure are those trainers of national football teams, I think this is an essential feature of him.  
Personally, as afan of Gençlerbirliği, I would be pleasant to see that kind of man to be the trainer of my own team, who pays importance on the beauty of the game. I cannot hide my jealousity when I heard the rumors on a probable move of Biliç to Beşiktaş. For sure, we cannot predict what kind of surprises are likely to wait for Biliç in a team who made trouble with many top-quality trainers. Probably, Biliç would be thinking twice before a move to a team who is likely to cancel contracts with some high quality –and expensive- players, who is struggling with financial crisis and thus who is likely to avoid expensive transfers.
But, apparently Biliç seems to be magnified by Istanbul and fierce fans of Beşiktaş.
(Photo: Jutarnji List)

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

New Blog on Bosnian football

It has been a few weeks that I have been writing weekly on Bosnian Premier League and for the Haber Boşnak, the web portal of the Bosniak community in Turkey.

I have decided to translate those articles and publish in a new blog. Here it is:

http://bosnianfootball.blogspot.com

For the ciritique of 19th Week of Bosnian League, click here.

Friday, 11 November 2011

ZELJEZNICAR – BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA (November 8, 2011)

PREPARATION FOR PORTUGAL...

A flow of Turkish tourists to Balkans is obvious in the last several years during “bayram” holidays. Tens of thousands of Turkish tourists flow to Balkans with reasonable tours. Since the bayram holidays are in Fall recently, the local tourism sector is happy with that, and since the prices are lower than in low season, the tours become more affordable. There are three basic routes: First one is Balkanic Danube, starting from Romania to Beograd. The second one is “Rumelija” tour, mostly involving Thessalonica through Bitola, Ohrid and Skopje. The thirds route starts from Montenegro and through amazing Adriatic coast, follows Dubrovnik and then reaches to Sarajevo following the route Pocitelj, Blagaj and Mostar. Last year, around 10.000 Turkish tourists followed that route and “occupied” Dubrovnik while there were no other tourist groups from other countries. That touristic “occupation” was referred frequently in Croatian newspapers being served with historical ironies.

My cousins involved in that touristic raid this year which made them to see Sarajevo for the first time. In November 8, Tuesday, around noon, when we were enjoying our coffees in Sarajevo’s Baščaršija, I saw Alen, an habitual Zeljeznicar fan. I do not see any problem to write his name in my blog since Alen is one of the most mediatic fans after giving an interview to documentary TV show “Frontline Football” in their episode for Bosnian – Serbian football match. (Here you can watch the documentary) If he is not the most mediatic one, surely he is the most athletic, can be always seen with his sport suits and sport bag.

I saw Alen with his sports bag and sports suit in Bascarsija. He asked me if I would attend to match in the evening.

It has been a long time that I was not interested in football matches in Bosnia since I submitted my dissertation. But, since some time, I began to follow matches again and surprisingly I did not have information about tonight’s match. There were no league matches because of the Bosnia-Portugal match and as far as I knew there were not cup matches as well. So, what was that match? Alen made it clear: At 18:00, Zeljeznicar and Bosnian national football team would play in Grbavica. It was both a part of 90th anniversary activities of Zeljeznicar, and a preparation match for the national squad.
The match took attention of my cousin, a hard core Boluspor fan, and we decided to be in the rows during the match.

Having walked the whole day, we were a quite a bit tired and we hardly left home. My cousin did not want to miss this opportunity to watch a game in Sarajevo, and the stadium was only 20 minutes walk from home. We dressed our Bosnia jerseys. It was not that much cold during the day, but Sarajevo becomes freezing when it gets dark. So, we wore some warm things as well. Luckily we did.

We bought the tickets for Grbavica Jug (South tribune of Grbavica) where TM87 stands. We were five minutes late for the match and we missed quite a lot during that 5 minutes. My cousin did not think that there would that amount of fans for a friendly game. Stadium was almost full. Of course, Grbavica Stadium’s location being in the middle of settlements is quite a lot effective as seen in the photo, but we should not underestimate the fever of Zeljo fans as well. (Photo: worldfootball.net)



When we entered the stadium, the cartons of the chorographical show and the mist from the flambeauxes were still dominating the scene of the stadium. When we looked at the scoreboard, we have realized that we even missed the early goal of Vedad İbisevic. Since there were not any seat on Jug, we began to watch the match on the bottom steps of stairs in the centre of Jug tribune. Some fans, whom I knew before told me the story how they swore on Medjunjanin during the match between Zeljo and Maccabi. (See: Zeljo - Maccabi)

Match was a real “friendly” game literally. Bosnia found the second goal again by İbisevic at 38th, and Zeljo had a quick reply on 40th by Beslija. In the half time, we began to look for somewhere to sit, as the place where we were standing was just under the place where the fanatics were cheering, which forced us to use our caps to protect ourselves from that “rain” from the mouths.

The second half was more like a struggle of tactics. Bosnia found many more position especially with Edin Dzeko, but could not manage to score. This is the most enjoyable part of Bosnian football. The midfield is usually very offensive and can find a lot of scoring positions. The center of the midfield is usually unused. In that sense, the match was quite enjoyable to watch. Even more enjoyable for my cousin, since it was not forbidden yet to smoke in stadiums in Bosnia. (It is forbidden in Turkey)

Bosnian nationals were not very ambitious in the second half, probably reserving their energy for Portugal match. Zeljo seemed to be more lively but there is no doubt about the difference between Zeljo and Bosnian national team in terms of quality of football. Despite there were no goals in the second half, we watched a nice match. Cross passes, even cross long passes were really amazing, as well as gentle ankle tackles and of course Yugoslav fault.

I never understand those who hate Yugoslav fault, which can be regarded as a security valve of offensive game that allows a team to attack without a fear of leaving empty space at the defense line. The only thing to avoid Yugoslav fault is that you have to arrange an offensive tactic as well. Sooner you pass the ball, lesser the opportunity to be subject to Yugoslav fault. Of course, to pass the ball, your offensive players should be ready in offense. So, if you will imprison eleven of your players in your half of field, you will be probably subject to Yugoslav fault before passing the ball. Of course, those players with higher technical capacity to escapee from tackles are really the most beautiful part of the game as well.

For almost 85 minutes, the fans have cheered for Zeljo, not Bosnian national squad. I did not expect something different. But, at least in the last five minutes, they did not forget their national teams...

Thursday, 10 November 2011

A HARD GAME WILL BE FOR RONALDO

In fact, not only for Ronaldo, but it will be a hard game for Portugal as well. The matches which will be played on 11th and 15th November will be the revenge of play-off games of World Cup that was played two years ago. During those two years, Bosnia had drastically improved her football. The Bosnian players from diaspora are now a perfect team since they have been playing together for almost five years. Moreover, Portugal is not the same Portugal.

The match will again be in Zenica’s Bilino Polje. It is well known why the match will not be played in Sarajevo, but in Zenica. The tribunes in Bilino Polje are closer to the pitch and Zenica’s football fans are famous of their fever. It will be a difficult match for Portugal in Zenica. I do not think that it will be much easier in Lisboa. Since Portugal and Bosnia are seeded BH Fanaticos, the fan organization of Bosnia is working hard to attract as many fans as possible. There will be a flow of Bosnian fans who are living in different European countries. Moreover, it is expected that a considerable number of fans from Bosnia will be mobilised as well. The tourism offices are quite a lot effective.

Probably the match will be extra difficult for Ronaldo. The Portugal national team was welcome by Bosnian fans on Thursday, November 10 in Sarajevo Airport. What a welcome... Ronaldo was quite cool when the Bosnian fans were cheering for Messi. In fact, we had the illusion that he was cool. However, it is witnessed that he was not that much cold blooded during today’s training in Zenica. As seen from the photo, Ronaldo’s reaction against the Bosnian fans who were teasing him is apparent. (Photo: J. Hadzic, Dnevni Avaz)


Those who are familiar with the football culture in balkans, especially in Bosnia respectively would know that a reaction of a player against fans is not good for himself. It is an invitation for more acts. Not even only for the fans, but probably the players on the pitch will do their best to destroy the nerves of world star player, which will make us to see the limit of professionality of Ronaldo.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

TURKEY vs CROATIA AFTER THREE YEARS

Three years ago, I have written an article expressing my wish about Turkey and Bosnia be not in the same qualification group. It did not happen for the qualifications of European Football Championship 2012. However, when Bosnia had a draw match with France in Paris, and Germany’s victory against Belgium allowed Turkey to have right for play-off, I have to admit that I was a bit afraid of a possible Bosnia-Turkey play-off match. Luckily both countries were in the same pot. In sum, Turkey eluded from playing with Bosnia among the heat of a play-off struggle where the adrenalin level would be at the top. Better to say, I was eluded from that.

I am lucky in another sense that Turkey will be playing with another Balkan country, if not with Bosnia. Of course, when Turkey was tied with Croatia, two historical matches fell into my mind. When Turkey had the first chance to play in European Football Championship in 1996, the first match was with Croatia and lost. Probably, the most interesting anecdote from that match was the “fair play” of Alpay, Turkish defender. Alpay is recognized as one of the most aggressive players in Turkey. But, maybe it was for the first time in his life he decided to play clean and instead of tackling Croatian striker Vlaović, he preferred to escort him until he scored. That made Alpay to be gain “Fair-play” award.

This match had been cleaned from the memories of Turkish football fans since some time. The quarterfinal match between Croatia and Turkey in Wien in June 20, 2008 is capable to many more football matches. Even UEFA web masters are aware of it that when Turkey and Croatia were seeded that legendary match was referred. The first match will be by November 11/12 in Turkey and the second match will be on November 15 in Croatia, than the one who will have ticket for Poland and Ukraine will be determined.

Four years ago, a friendly match between Bosnia and Croatia was played in Sarajevo in a Summer night in August 2007 when the visitor team had a victory of 5-3. It is a question mark, if it could be identified as a “friendly” match since violent fights ocured before and during the match. Bosnian fans were teasing Croatian fans by transforming The Beatles’ famous song “Yellow Submarine”s reprise part; “”We all live in yellow submarine” as “Zagreb će biti Turska mahala”.literally meaning “Zagreb will be Turkish mahala” (district in Turkish language). Even the hard core Turkish nationalists would not express like that, at least that much directly! I had written an article about it.

I have asked from my Bosnian friends not to involve us (Turks) into the Balkan trouble. However, it seems it is a bit difficult to realize that. Indeed, after the legendary match between Turkey and Croatia in June 20, 2008 there were violent incidents in many places in Bosnia, which is not surprising while similar incidents happen even after a match of Croatia and Brazil. Despite I would avoid any generalizations, it is very frequent that Bosnian Croats do have a special love for Croatia. Since Bosnians (Bosnian Muslims) are not happy for that they enjoy to support any rival of Croatia. Especially when the rival team is Turkey.

Probably, this year similar incidents will not happen, since Bosnians will be very much occupied with the matches against Portugal.

DO CROATS REALLY FEAR FROM TURKEY?
After the seeding in UEFA, I had a look at Turkish newspapers. Our very talented journalists were very proud to write that Croats were extremely sad because of a seeding with Turkey. I had already checked well known Croatian newspapers like Slobodna Dalmacija or Dnevnik just after the seeding and I remember I read totally different comments. I looked at the comments in Croatian newspapers to be sure. I was true! The commentators were not afraid, but on the contrary they were almost happy to be seeded with Turkey and Croatian newspapers were full of revenge skirls.

Really a big mistake! If I were them, I would write about unluckiness of Croatian national football team because of being seeded with Turkey. As well known, Turks are a nation who enjoys very much to be slapped on the back. Those who are aware of it do prefer to soften the beard with cream instead of confronting Turkey and injecting adrenalin. The Croatian newspapers were captioned with “revenge” wishes of Bilić. However, when I started to write sub-lines, I have realized that Croatian journalists do have that special talency of transforming reality into a fiction, like their Turkish colleagues.

WHAT INDEED BILIĆ STATED?

As a matter of fact, Bilić underlined the chance of a revenge against Turkey as it is reflected on the headlines of the Croatian newspapers. However, there are more things that he had emphasized. Bilić who had mentioned that playing against Turkey or Bosnia would not be preferable for him, had told to newspapers:

“No doubt that our rival is strong.” Smashing his fist on the desk, he continued: “They are strong but not more than us. Turks are also very ambitious to play in EURO 2012. They have very good players and they have one of the best trainers in the world. I believe in my players. I have been waiting and dreaming for this moment for four years. We have a wonderful opportunity to take revenge of Wien.”

What took my attention the most is his comment about Hiddink. Bilić takes Hiddink very seriously, probably without being informed that the world famous trainer who succeeded with many teams is de facto part-time trainer of Turkish national team. Moreover, he emphasized on players like Arda, Selçuk and Mehmet Topal.

WHAT ABOUT CROATIAN MEDIA?

Croatian journalists are simply not pleasant about statements of Bilić. Some claim Bilić as being cowards, some claim that he overemphasize the rival. Croatian media, on the other hand is quite gorgeous. Daily newspaper Dnevnik’s last word about the seeding is like that:

“DAJTE NAM TE TURKE! EVO VAM İH. ILİ JESTE İLİ NİSTE...”
Means: “Give us Turks! Here it is. Now or never!

Somehow, it is quite difficult to forget about the role of journalists in Yugoslav wars.

Croatians see it as an advantage that they will play the second match at home. According to them, playing the second match not in “Istanbul Hell” is an advantage.

Trabzonspor’s ex-player Vugrinec gave an interview to Jutarnji List relying on his three years long experience in that Black Sea coast of Turkey. He is mentioning about the fanatism of the Turkish football fans.

What we can predict from those sentences is that, Croatian media is hoping to come to Zagreb with least damage from Turkey.

Probably, the match will be played in Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, which is recognized as the place where the Yugoslav wars started. The match between Red Star and Dinamo Zagreb in May 1991 is depicted as the place where the warfare was sparkled.

On the other side, Split, home place of Hajduk Split, famous with football fanatics is also candidate to host the game.

Personally, instead of having a journey to Habsburg styled Zagreb in freezing November, I would prefer to pay a visit to Split on the Mediterranean coast.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

ŽELJEZNIČAR – MACCABI TEL AVIV (July 28, 2011)

According to the statistics, in 2009 there were 126 million blogs on world wide web. (See: Internet 2009 in numbers) Probably, it should already have exceeded 200 million by mid-2011. One of the biggest problems about blogs is that “they die”. Those which are activated with great hopes and fun, fade away, or better to say they enter into vegetative state after a while because of not being updated. This blog was launched in November 2007. Somehow, I was trying to update the blog by adding one article per month, but since 2008, that is for three years I could only add one article.

In this context, Bosnian Football Culture is a good example for how a blog may fade away. However, in the last couple of months, this issue began to annoy me. Maybe you will not believe but there are people who follow this blog about “Bosnian Football”, there are those who mentioned that they are waiting for new articles. For a long while, when I was faced with the question; “Will you add any new articles?”, my reply was; “Yes. I could not find time since I have been busy. I know I neglected the blog, but I will add new articles as soon as possible.” That sort of lies even began to disturb me, myself. Frankly speaking, I have to admit that
When you search for “football culture” in Google, one of the first five web sites appear is my blog. Frankly, this is also one of the factors which encourages me to update the blog. Indeed, it appears in the second page now but I do not have any rival when you will search for “Bosnian football culture.” There is no other lunatic who would wrap his mind about that issue.

Nowadays, there are no deadlines waiting for me. After 6 long years, It has been the first time that I do not have a deadline in my. I know that it will not be that long. So, I prefer to enjoy this. I want to deal with some joyful things which I could not have time for them before. As I have mentioned, since I wrote the article titled; “Let Turkey not be in the same Group with Bosnia Again” in October 2009, this blog was left orphan by me. Indeed, I have really very good reasons: I was in navy for 6 months for compulsory military service, I had the title of assistant professorship, I got married, and now I have got a son! Enough? In the meantime, I have to confess that visiting Istanbul every week for a time period of almost one and a half year was really exhausting while I was giving lectures in a university in Istanbul. I better not to pull out all the pathetic stop. In fact, there was only one reason why I could not write anything new in my blog: I WAS BORED!

One of the most frequent forms of post-dissertation traumas is the feeling of alienation for the thesis subject. Frankly, not only because football was the subject of thesis, but also because of the latest incidents forced me to keep my mental health protected from the world of football. Gençlerbirliği, my team, do really sucks in Turkish Super League. The latest incidents about corruption in Turkish football is also obvious. In addition to that, my performance of being a goal keeper in 6-a-side matches is the worst of all times. The fact that I am playing as a goal keeper is because I am always the worst player, is also another issue that has to be kept in mind!

During last season, I watched Sarajevo derby in Grbavica which motivated me for a while to write something for the blog. But, this motivation was only for a few seconds. Something happened two months ago. The other Gençlerbirliği fan in Sarajevo; Erdoğan called me.

On Wednesday Željezničar was to play against Maccabi Tel Aviv, for UEFA Europa League Third Qualification Round. We decided to go to match. After that match, I have realized that it was the perfect time to add something new to this blog.

Almost for a week, it has been rainy or cloudy in Sarajevo. The game will not be played in Grbavica – Željezničar’s stadium, but will be in Koševo. Probably, Grbavica did not abide UEFA criteria. Since Koševo does not have covered grandstand, I kept an eye on the clouds during the whole day. Neither it rained, nor there was any single sign from the clouds that it would be raining. The weather was nice and a long-sleeved t-shirt would be enough to be warm.

My actual knowledge about Željo’s current squad was almost on “zero” level. I just know that they were on third place in Bosnian Premier League last season. I always used to find excuse by claiming: “Do not ask me about the football teams, nor about the players. I am not watching the game. I watching those, who watch the game.” However, I shall say that I could not recognize the fans as well. My field work had finished by February 2008 and the time period of 3,5 years since then is a reasonable time for a new generation of fans would appear and the oldies to marry, have jobs, and have families and have less time for football.

I did not understand why northern (Sjever) and western (Zapad) stands were not opened. The fans were only on southern (Jug) curve and eastern (Istok) stand which is on the side of the hospital. Of course, only the VIP section of western stand was open as well. TM87 (aka “The Maniacs” – I do not prefer to call anybody or any group addressing like that, and I prefer TM87, abbreviation for “The Maniacs 1987”) was located on southern curve by their nature. I use the term “by their nature” because of two reasons: First, TM87’s location in Grbavica is also on “Jug”. Secondly, Kosevo’s Jug is always reserved for guest fans. One can argue that the western curve belongs to Željo fans more than Sarajevo fans.

Unfortunately, I do not have any photos from the match. After years when I went to a football match with the wish to add something for my blog, I took my notebook, but forgot my pen, I took my camera, but forgot to take charged batteries. A failure which should not be made by an anthropologist who goes to “field” with more than three pens, controls the batteries, moreover, takes extra batteries with the possibility to struggle with the security guys about extra batteries in the bag. I promise that in the next article –which I hope it will be earlier than 3,5 years- you will see visual material. For some photos, you can visit Željezničar’s web site.

Jug was totally full. There were no empty chairs on the corners. Istok was almost full as well. I can say that there were more or less 17-18.000 spectators. As a habitual outcome of being denizen of Ankara 19 Mayıs Stadium, we seated align half-way line. So to say; the family part. The stands for those married with children spectators. Giving importance on Gençlerbirliği fandom traditions, we began to enjoy our sunflower seeds. We even contributed to some chants. Surely we chatted a lot about teams, players, referee as well.

I have been more than 60 games in Bosnia. Almost during all of those games, I have been hanging around the stands among the fans, with a camera and a note-book in my hands. Slowly but surely I began to quit that habit of mine, and instead of watching those who watch the match, I try to watch the match itself. Honestly, I even began to enjoy football again after a long time. Of course, the rapid nature of the game has got influence on it as well. From the early beginning of the match Željo was playing impressively offensive. Every second they seized the ball, they were attacking. A nice game to watch, however Željo was like a “bee unable to produce honey”.

The match statistics are that of which could make a Championship/Football Manager fan into mad. According to the statistics from UEFA’s website, Željo has 10 goal attempts, where as Maccabi has 7. But ball is round. Maccabi was the victorious side at the end of the game. Željo was absolutely dominant in the first half. Nevertheless, they could not find the goal. Željo players, especially Zajko Zeba, the most expensive player in Bosnian leagues (650.000 Euro) were not able to roll the ball into the net. Since Maccabi players saw that Željo was inefficient in using the free-kicks, they did not hesitate to foul Željo players. I have to admit that the Swedish referee who were not willing to show red card from the second yellow was effective in determining that strategy as well. The name of the one of the Swedish referees was Mehmet Culum, an absolutely Turkish name. Probably the shorter linesman was him. He was just in front of us and the whole match I waited for him to verdict improperly to tease him in Turkish language, but he simply did not give me this opportunity.

During the game they announced that FK Sarajevo was losing the game against Sparta Prague in away match. The Željo fans on “Jug” exhibited their bliss, while no one reacted positively or negatively on Istok.

Since Željo, despite playing very offensive game, could not score, there were two alternative scenarios for the second half: Željo would find a solution to score one goal, or Maccabi would benefit from fast counter-attacks. The second alternative came about. Maccabi’s trainer Motti Ivanir should have well analyzed Željo’s weaker points. Roberto Colautti, Argentinian player of Maccabi, who has been injured for long time, thus weak in one-to-one struggles, but quite rapid in counter-attacks started in the eleven in the second half. He scored on min.47 and 56. He was probably noticed a bit lately by Željo defense. When Željo defense began to keep eye on him seriously, it was the time for Colautti to have a peaceful time until the end of the match without any serous attempts, surely with peace in his heart of having done his job perfectly. Maccabi’s Bosnian player Haris Međunjanin, who played quite ambitious against a team from his homeland took attention of Bosnian fans. Bosnian fans not only sweared to his mother, but also to his sister, which is not very common in Bosnia.

We personally were more or less enthusiasted about Montenegrin origin Serbian right winger Goran Marković’s style despite his passing was not brilliant, but not bad in tackling. Marković is new to the team. Probably he would be better in passing when he will get used to play with the same squad. Another new player, Liberian origin Swiss player Patrick Gerhardt Nyema took our attention with his pace, but he needs some more experience in Bosnia to be an important player in Željo.

While I was expecting Maccabi to score the third, even the fourth goals, Željo began to recover a bit, trying different ways to score. Unfortunately, they do not have that much talented scorers in the squad. I was surprised that none of the Željo players tried shooting from long distance despite Maccabi’s goal-keeper seemed not good on long-shots. The result was clear: 0-2...