By Amjad Baker
No more mistakes. No place for losers in the Euro 2000 semis.
While the outsiders Turkey meet Portugal tonight at 16:00 GMT in the first match of the quarterfinals, Italy gathers all its weapons for Romania's match at 18:45 GMT.
Turk's and Portugal's hard work paid off for them in the quarter finals in performances that relegated the giants teams of Germany and England to a by-gone soccer era.
Portugal gained a 100% record in Group A, edging the British for 3-2, beating Romania 1-0, and crunching the Germans for 3-0, to top their group leaving the second place for Romania.
Lately, Portugal's new generation of stars, who celebrated the world title under-20 twice in 1989 and 1991, have made their presence tell in the championships by paving the way for their team's success.
Portugal's only bad news is that Secretario will be ruled out from tonight's match, but Abel Xavier will fill the right-back berth. Coach Humberto Coelho is toying with the idea of fielding Figo, Costa and Conceicao to put them on the forward line with more offensive duties in an attempt to overwhelm the outsiders and march forward to the semis.
But surprises might continue in Euro 2000, specially when this year 2000 sounds fruitful for the Turkish side who finally discovered how to climb the soccer ladder, squashing the old impression about their poor performance.
Turkish coach Mustafa fought hard alongside his young players to get the quarterfinals’ ticket with 4 points that came after beating Belgium 2-0, and a scoreless draw with Sweden. They did, however lose 2-1 to Italy.
Bad news for Turkey as their Hankan Sukur star might not be fully fit for tonight's eliminating match after he picked up an injury on Thursday during training.
Sukur, the emotive striker who made a brilliant show in Belgium's match and scored both goals for his team which rewarded him the title man of the match might leave a hectic headache for his coach who needs to avoid elimination no matter what.
ITALY COULD NOT BE BETTER
Italy sounds good and ready for Romania's match.
"The team looks in good shape," said Italy coach Dino Zoff ahead of the most significant match for both teams who desperately need to win this match to avoid elimination. "It is an important match, it is win or lose," said Zoff adding that his team is going to "keep characteristics" as they will most probably going to maintain their characteristic 3-5-2 formation.
This moderate tactic of playing reveals the coache's deep thoughts of fielding carefully and "going with a logic degree of optimism and we will see what happens," in this critical game.
"I am not frightened of the match," Zoff who praised his team's rapid and expert handling of the ball.
Italy have had an easier time than Romania, qualified after two consecutive victories and added a third to keep their straight 100 percent record.
Romania, however, will be energized by Gheorghe Hagi's return after missing 3-2 defeat of England through suspension - Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)