Sunday 16 December 2018

Turkey a threat in Regions opener

A slick Turkish side and the clammy Braga heat is what faces the Republic of Ireland Amateur side as they kick start their UEFA Regions Cup campaign tomorrow.

Gerry Smith’s side touched down in Porto last Friday afternoon before transferring to their base just outside Braga and have since acclimatised to the conditions with a couple of training sessions close to their hotel. With temperatures expected to remain in the low to mid- 20s for tomorrow evening’s game, Smith’s side will be battling the conditions as well as a very capable Ankara side.

The game, set to kick off at 5pm Irish time, will be played at the Cidade de Barcelos, the 12,500 capacity stadium that is home to Portuguese second-tier outfit GF Vicente and which will also host the final next Tuesday night.

The Irish, who were unbeaten in their qualifying group, have been totally focussed on this opening game. While a win will be a huge boost in Ireland’s bid to top the group, defeat could well signal the end of the campaign before it has started.

The Turks have already played six games to get this far, coming through the preliminary and intermediate rounds. They were unbeaten in all six games, notching up five wins and a draw. The dangerman for Ankara will be Faith Deniz, who netted five times in those six games.

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