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Wednesday, June 25, 2008
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UEFA Euro 2008 Austria-Switzerland

Hamit spills the beans

Turkey defender Sabri Sarioglu (L) controls the ball under pressure from teammate Mehmet Aurelio during a training session in Vienna on Sunday.Photo: AFP

Hamit Altintop is using insider information to help Turkey plot Germany's downfall in Wednes-day's Euro 2008 semifinal.

The Gelsenkirchen-born Altintop has been busy giving the lowdown on his Bayern Munich colleagues Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski, Philipp Lahm, Marcell Jansen and Bastian Schweinsteiger in the German side facing the Turks in Basel.

"There are five Bayern players in the German side and we're always talking about them with Hamit and he'll continue to give information to us about them," said Semih Senturk on Monday.

Senturk played a pivotal role in getting Turkey to their first ever semifinal at a European championships, his goal in the dying seconds of extra time setting up the victorious penalty shoot against Croatia.

He reckoned that appearing in the last four would provide him and his teammates with more self-confidence for the date with Die Mannschaft.

Senturk reflected on Turkey's injury and suspension crisis - no fewer than nine of the 23 are out of commission, with four players banned and five unfit.

"To have lots of injuries and bans is hard on us and there are likely to be lots of changes on Wednesday but the replacements will be doing their utmost to help us get to the final."

Defender Gokhan Zan, appearing alongside Senturk at the press conference, chipped in with a smile: "If we make it to the final we might be hard pushed to field 11 players!"

Senturk, who said the memory of the priceless goal he netted against Croatia last Friday would stay with him for the rest of his life, shed light on the role played by Fatih Terim in Turkey's roller coaster passage in this Euro.

"Fatih treats every player like he's their father, he takes care of us all. I can say both tactically and in terms of motivation he's the best coach I've ever worked with."

Despite their magnificent coomebacks where late goals have snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat against Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Croatia, Senturk conceded Germany would be favourites in Basel.

"But that doesn't worry us," the forward said. "All it does is motivate us on a different level. Germany are highly-disciplined and strong but we have a determined side and hope to achieve another win."

Zan felt that having made it this far in the competition a burden of expectation had been lifted.

"Until we reached the semifinals we had stress on us, now we're rid of that and that's going to have a positive effect on us."

Looking back on Turkey's unexpected (at least to outsiders) progress at Euro 2008 the Besiktas fullback commented: "After qualifying for the championships our first target was to advance from the group stages.

"Then after defeating Croatia in the quarters we are up against a high class side in Germany, this is the last step on the way to the final. We want more success now, and we're not afraid of anyone, even if we have all those injuries and suspensions."

Turkey are without the banned quartet of keeper Volkan Demirel, Tuncay Sanli, Arda Turan who scored the last gasp winner against the Swiss, and Emre Asik.

The five players missing due to injury are striker Nihat Kahveci, who has returned to Spain for treatment on a thigh problem picked up against the Croats and whose place will be filled by Senturk, Emre Gungor, Servet Cetin, Tumer Metin and skipper Emre Belozoglu.

Turkey leave their base in Vienna midday Tuesday for Basel and final preparations ahead of a match that is being billed as one of the biggest in their history.

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