Aykut Kocaman is under no illusions about the significance of Fenerbahce’s Europa League semi-final against Benfica tonight.
The manager – who played over 200 games for the club over an eight-year period – told a press conference of his pride at progressing to the latter stages of the competition.
“It is the most important match in our history – it is a milestone,” he said.
“This is the first European semi-final in our history, whereas Benfica have been here many times before.”
Fenerbahce beat Lazio 3-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals to book their place among the last four, and currently sit second in the Super Lig.
And Kocaman is confident that the Turks can use the intimidating atmosphere inside the Şükrü Saracoğlu stadium to their benefit.
“It is a strong advantage to play the first match [at home],” he insisted.
However, their Portuguese opposition have had an incredible season, and currently sit unbeaten at the top of their domestic table.
“A team like Benfica have high self-confidence,” Kocaman said. “I think in the first part of the game we have to take advantage of being at home and show a little more aggression.”
Striker Pierre Webo looks likely to retain his place in the side at the expense of top scorer Moussa Sow.
The Senegalese hitman has notched 15 League goals this campaign, but hasn’t transferred that form onto the European stage – scoring only once.
Mehmet Topuz and Miroslav Stoch are also pushing for starts, while Selcuk Sahin is expected to be called upon in favour of teenage midfielder Salih Ucan.
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