Georgia vs Turkey Tbilisi, 07/02/07
Although Georgia and Turkey are geographical neighbours, in a football sense they seem miles apart. FIFA rank UFWC title holders Georgia 95th in the world, and Turkey 27th. But Turkey have never won a UFWC match, and Georgia comfortably beat Uruguay last time around. This is a title match that could easily go either way. The Georgian team, the ‘Jvarosnebi’ (Crusaders), are coached by German Klaus Toppmöller, and skippered by AC Milan stopper Kakha Kaladze. They will hope to welcome back all-time top scorer Shota Arveladze, formerly of Rangers and now at AZ Alkmaar, who missed the Uruguay match through injury. Schalke 04 midfielder Levan Kobiashvili was a two-goal hero in the match against Uruguay. Premiership interest comes courtesy of Blackburn Rovers defender Zurab Khizanishvili.
Turkey’s last match was a 1-1 away draw with official world champions Italy back in November, but it’s doubtful that many pointers can be taken from a friendly in which a total of 17 substitutions were made. Newcastle midfielder Emre Belozoglu could miss out against Georgia, being controversially absent from his club side in recent weeks (officially through injury) having been accused of making racist remarks during a Premiership match against Everton – he denies the claim. Turkey’s nickname is Ay-Yildizlar (the Crescent-Stars). The so-called ‘friendly’ will be played at the 59,000-capacity Boris Paichadze National Stadium of Georgia. The result and a full report will be posted here after the match.