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Defeat in opener

Altintop: We’re still extremely optimistic

Turkey coach Fatih Terim’s high estimation of Hamit Altintop was confirmed on Saturday when the 25-year-old appeared in his country’s opening match at Euro 2008 against Portugal despite missing almost the whole of the last six weeks with injury.

Until he was substituted with quarter of an hour remaining, Altintop gave a solid display in the unfamiliar right-back berth, coming away with credit from a head-to-head duel with Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. In an interview published by, Hamit reviewed the opening day defeat and assessed Turkey’s chances for the rest of the tournament.

Interview: Hamit Altintop

Question: Hamit Altintop, Turkey lost their opening match 2-0 to Portugal and created almost nothing by way of chances. How disappointing is that?
Altintop: “We played very well in the first half, but we lost our way a little after half-time. The Portuguese switched things around a bit and we weren’t sure where to go looking for them.“

Question: Why do you think that was?
Altintop: “We have a few younger players in the team, and they may not have been able to cope with the pressure.“

Question: So you must be a little concerned about the rest of the tournament?
Altintop: “Obviously it’s not a great way to start, but I’m still very, very optimistic. Portugal were always favourites. No-one was expecting us to take anything from the match. Our tournament starts for real on Wednesday.“

Question: That’s when you play co-hosts Switzerland, who also lost their opening match. After the events at the end of the World Cup play-off meeting in 2005 there was an edge to the game in any case, and now it’s also the equivalent of a showdown for a place in the quarter-finals...
Altintop: “That’s true. But I still think we have a very good team, capable of beating Switzerland and taking revenge for 2005.“

Question: How will you bounce back from the disappointing display against Portugal?
Altintop: “We need to be a lot more determined. We’ll be talking about that in the dressing room. And I’ll be having a word with the coach personally about it too.“

Question: In the somewhat unfamiliar position of right-back, you came up against Cristiano Ronaldo, who certainly made you work hard. How do you feel about playing there?
Altintop: “Very good, basically.“