Kuntz feels at home signing deal with Turkey

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Istanbul (AFP)

Stefan Kuntz feels like he is “coming home” after signing a three-year contract as Turkey’s national coach to guide them to their first World Cup final in 20 years.

The 58-year-old former German international striker scored nine goals while playing for Istanbul Besiktas side in 1995/96.

Kuntz, who established his reputation as a coach by coaching Germany to two European Under-21 titles (2017/21), looked on these days with envy while officially signing his contract to replace Senol Gunes as the new one. head coach of Turkey.

“It’s like coming home. It’s been an amazing year in Besiktas,” Kuntz told reporters at the signing ceremony in Istanbul.

“My wife even tells me again that we made a mistake, that we left Turkey too soon.”

No financial terms of the deal were disclosed.

The soccer federation decided to part ways with Gunes after Turkey were beaten by the Netherlands 6-1 in a 2022 World Cup qualifier earlier this month – one of the worst defeats in their history.

Turkey are third behind the Netherlands and Norway in Group F of World Cup qualifying.

This leaves them in danger of not qualifying for a fifth consecutive World Cup final.

Their last appearance in 2002 saw them stun the pundits by advancing to the semi-finals and ultimately finishing in third place.

“I hope we can make it to a World Cup final again after 20 years.” said Turkish Football Federation president Nihat Ozdemir.

The football-mad nation had high hopes for the Gunes, 69 – who guided Turkey to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals – when he took over the management of the team in 2019.

Turkey seemed to have a good mix of veterans and young talent who performed admirably in qualifying for Euro 2020 delayed by the pandemic.

But they lost all three matches in the tournament conceding eight goals and scoring just once.

They followed with a draw against Montenegro and a 3-0 victory over modest Gibraltar before being humiliated by the Dutch.

Kuntz said his immediate task was to prepare the team for their decisive game against Norway on October 8 in Istanbul.

“I am full of positive energy because I know the potential of Turkish players,” he said. “We are full of confidence that we will celebrate future successes.”


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