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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Terim puts his faith in youthful Turkish players

Turkey coach Fatih Terim is backing his young guns to flourish in the biggest match of their lives when they face Germany in tonight's Euro 2008 semi-final in Basle.

With as many as eight of his players sidelined because of injury or suspension, Terim will be forced to rely on youngsters such as London-born forward Colin Kazim-Richards at St Jakob-Park.

The wily Germans may be in the driving seat when it comes to experience and know-how in big matches, but Terim does not believe that counts for everything.

'Before coming here, many people were asking whether experience or hunger was the most important thing,' the former AC Milan coach said.

'My players may be inexperienced but they are definitely hungry. With Kazim, I have been putting him in the team since the beginning - he can control his excitement.

'Experience is important, but dynamism from players is just as important and can benefit the team.'

Former Bury, Brighton and Sheffield United man Kazim-Richards, 21, and his team-mates may be unheralded names in the football world but they have certainly caught the public's imagination over the past few weeks.

Turkey scored last-minute winners in their final two pool games, against Switzerland and the Czech Republic, to squeeze out of Group A.

And in their quarter-final against Croatia they grabbed an equaliser in the dying seconds of extra-time - just a minute after falling behind - before going through on penalties.

The Turks' last-gasp heroics have arguably been the highlight of the championships, and Terim believes people will be talking about his team long after the conclusion of the tournament.

'One of the things we said before we came here was that we wanted to remind the football world of Turkey,' he said.

'Everyone, whether they are football fans or not, is talking about Turkey. In four years' time, people will think of Turkey in the sense that we have succeeded.

'But neither myself nor my players believe we have completed what we set out to do. At the beginning of the tournament, not many people knew them (the players) but now people are taking their hats off to them.

'We are playing with our minds and our hearts. We will do our best and we will fight until the end.'

Terim will be without suspended quartet Tuncay Sanli, Arda Turan, Volkan Demirel and Emre Asik, while Nihat Kahveci, Emre Gungor, Servet Cetin and Emre Belozoglu are injured.

Tumer Metin was expected to be sidelined as well but Terim revealed the Larisa midfielder should be able to play '30 minutes at most'.


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