Saint-Etienne: Turkey did just enough to beat Colombia 2-1 Saturday (briefly reported in these columns’ Saturday late City edition) and clinch third place in the Confederations Cup in a game played under the shadow of Cameroon player marc-vivien foe’s death in the semi-finals.
The Turks, who also claimed third place at last year’s World Cup, picked a second-string team, fielding only three players who had appeared in their four previous encounters in the eight-nation tournament.
But the celebrations were dampened by the death of Foe, a celebrated player and personality in Africa and Europe.
The players of both sides wore black armbands, and the 18,237 fans at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard hushed for a minute’s poignant silence before the game as a mark of respect for Foe.
Colombia’s players said before the game they were still coming to terms with Foe’s sudden death, but coach Francisco Maturana said they were composed on the pitch.
“We felt his death in our hearts but once we started playing our minds were totally focused on the game,” he said.
Tuncay Sanli got his third tournament goal after just two minutes when he exploited a defensive blunder to hit a thundering shot from just inside the Colombian area.
Giovanni Hernandez levelled the score after 62 minutes and also clinched a triple of Confederations Cup goals, linking up with victor Aristizabal to burst into the Turkish area and tap the ball past Omer Catkic.
The two joined Frenchmen Thierry Henry and Robert Pires and Japan’s Shunsuke Nakamura atop the scoring standings.
With four minutes left on the clock, Turkey broke quickly down the left and had four men against three as Tuncay passed inside for substitute Okan Yilmaz to fire a shot into the corner.
The game, though, was mostly a display of poor ball control, mishit passes and weak finishing. Turkey had just three shots on goal in the entire game, while Colombia managed their first shot on goal in only the 35th minute.
Colombia fielded their strongest team, including pacey winger Elson Becerra.
Turkish stars Bulent Korkmaz, Fatih Akyel, Ergun Penbe and Yilmaz were all on the subs’ bench.
First-choice goalie Rustu Recber, injured in the semi-final, also missed the match.
“We opted four our less used players,” Turkish coach Senol Gunes said. “We had more strength to keep going towards the end.”