PTT Lig 2017/18 Season Preview!
We are only 6 days away from the start of the new PTT Lig 1 season in Turkey and it looks set to be another competitive year with a number of teams capable of promotion. It's difficult at this stage to predict the favourites as most clubs have overhauled their squads with a number of new transfers.
Every season in Turkey teams make big changes to their squads due to players contracts coming to and end and their being no real structure or future plannng due to miss management and financial problems. It's common to see teams lose their star players for nothing due to them running down their contracts or clubs failing to pay their wages.
A perfect example of this is Adana Demirspor who are a club with a fantastic and loyal fanbase who despite failing to meet expectations each season still turn up in their numbers to follow their team. They have signed an incredible 20 new players, but even more incredible that 21 of last seasons squad have left the club including Mickael Pote.
The Frenchman was the clubs top scorer for the last two seasons and topped the PTT Lig charts with 24 goals last campaign. Apoel Nicosia moved to snap the powerful forward up in the summer and he will be a big loss for Adana who will be looking for Atabey Cicek to fill the void after his loan move from Basaksehir.
Caykur Rizespor, Adanaspor and Gaziantepspor were the 3 sides relegated from the Super Lig last .season and the first two have a chance of going straight back up with Rizespor the early favourites if
.we had to pick. They have somehow managed to keep hold of Leonard Kweuke despite interest from teams in the Super Lig. They have also kept the majority of last seasons squad together and can rely on former Ankaragücü keeper Gokhan Akkan who has impressed with his performances between the sticks. It's important when teams are relegated that they maintain the quality players they had in their team and there isn't too much movement in th squad unless it's necessary and Caykur have done exactly that.
Gaziantepspor on the other hand are in big trouble financially and are struggling to even put a team on the pitch. Okan Cinar has moved to Besiktas, Ilhan Parlak has signed for Ankaragucu and Nabil Ghilas is now playing for Goztepe. You have to feel for Gaziantepspor as they have been a Super Lig side for a number years and have just moved into a beautiful new stadium but are facing 2 releagations in successive seasons.
Of the promoted clubs from Lig 2, Ankaragucu, Erzerumspor and Istanbulspor all have a chance of making playoffs but at the same time could also be dragged into the releagation zone. That's how tight the division is between top half and botto.
Ankaragucu have made some good signings but the issue they have is that the transfer ban hasn't been lifted and they have only 2 days to pay 6 million Lira otherwise none of the new players can play against Erzerumspor next Friday in the season opener. Kibong Mbamba, Ilhan Parlak, Nduka Ozokwu, Lanre Kehinde, Yusuf Abdiuglu and Arif Morkaya are just a few of the new players the club has agreed contracts with.
Erzerumspor will be looking to experienced striker Mert Nobre again to lead the squad to the playoffs and they have wasted no time in adding to the squad. Hamza Younes and Haris Habra look interesting signings and they can also count on the backing from a vocal and large home support.
It's been a while since we heard of the name Istanbulspor and seems like a lifetime ago that the club were playing in the UEFA Cup. Years of financial problems and playing in the lower leagues finally came to and end after they were promoted at the end of the season. They have former Turkish wonderkid Muhammed Demirici in their squad and have signed Konyaspor winger Ali Dere as they look to challenge for a place in the Super Lig.
Eskisehirspor narrowly missed out on promotion last season after loosing in the playoff final against Goztepe. They still have enough quality in their squad to be considered one of the favourites for promotion but the transfer ban imposed means they can't add to their squad. Hasan Ayaroglu will return from a successful loan spell at Kastamonuspor. On the way out is Ruud Boffin who signed for Antalyspor and Kamil Korecki who signed for Trabzonspor.
Altinordu are one of the most well respected clubs in Turkey due to their incredible youth program and community work. They have produced some quality young players such as Cagalar Soyuncu and Under who has just signed for AS Roma. They also have a policy of signing Turkish only players with the view of developing them and selling for profits. So far it's a policy that is working and drawing many plaudits.
The PTT Lig has some other historical teams such as Samsunspor, Elazigspor and Denizlispor with decent fan bases but who have al struggled in the lower half of the table due to financial problems. Samsunspor have just moved into a new stadium, Elazigspor have lost highly rated Hamidou Traore to Karabukspor and Denizlispor face a fight for survival due to finances.
The PTT Lig has everything for fans who are fed up with corporate modern football. It has lots of goals, hostile atmospheres, comical defending and much more. Like the Super Lig their are plenty of empty seats in the stands due to Passolig with many fans still refusing to go and keeping to their boycott.
Next Friday night Ankaragucu vs Erzerumspor will kick off the PTT Lig campaign at the Osmali Stadium in Ankara. Let's hope we start with a home win.