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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Sports

UEFA Euro 2008 Austria-Switzerland

Keepers provide suspense

Vienna was the setting for Graham Greene's post Second World War classic The Third Man but at Euro 2008 it's not Harry Lime but Turkey's three keepers that are providing all the suspense.

Turkey's charmed journey at Euro 2008 has attracted its fair share of drama, much of it surrounding Fatih Terim's stoppers.

The shock semifinalists first had their number one stopper banned for two matches, then his replacement was plunged into a penalty shoot-out, whilst the number three is set to come on as an outfield player to fill a hole left by a wave of bans and injuries.

Turkey were told late Monday that their appeal over Volkan Demirel's two match ban for pushing over Czech striker Jan Koller had been rejected, leaving Recber Rustu to once again stand in for Wednesday's semifinal with Germany.

Demirel, a colossus at 1.91m and 92kg, was sent off in the dying minutes of Turkey's 3-2 comeback win over the Czech Republic in their last group game.

That opened the door for Rustu to make his Euro 2008 debut in the quarterfinal against Croatia, and, in a baptism of fire the pony-tailed keeper found himself coping with a spot-kick shoot-out.

The 35-year-old, dethroned at Fenerbahce by Demirel with Rustu switching clubs in 2007, will never forget his 117th cap.

He earned his nation's gratitude when stopping the penalty from Mladen Petric for Croatia's final penalty.

That made up for the Besiktas star's lapse when his glaring error handed Croatia what looked like being the winning goal in the last eight clash.

The veteran of Turkey's 2002 World Cup semifinal team's life was shaken up back in 1993 when he was the victim of a road accident in which he suffered serious injury and in which he lost a close acquaintance.

On the pitch his career has been far from smooth, with a below par season in 2003/04 with Barcelona before moving on to Fenerbahce.

Turkey's third choice keeper has made the headlines too.

With nine of his players either suspended or injured Terim has raised the unusual possibility of bringing on Tolga Zengin as an outfield player against Germany.

If that's the case the 24-year-old will have a third cap like he'd never expected.

"He could come on towards the end as a sub as last man (in defence) or a centre forward," Terim said.

"We can't allow ourselves the luxury of players choosing where they want to play."

Should Turkey see off Germany then Volkan is expected to resume his place for the final against Spain or Russia.

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