- Associated Press - Monday, June 20, 2016

LENS, France (AP) - Turkey is pinning its hopes at the European Championship on another great escape.

The last time Turkey was at the tournament, it was arguably in as big a hole as it is this time.

Back in 2008, Turkey was a quarter of an hour from being knocked out of the tournament at the group stage, before a remarkable goal spree triggered a chain of events that saw the team eventually make it to the semifinals - its best performance yet.

At Euro 2016, Turkey still has slim hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages, even though it has yet to register a point let alone a goal in its two Group D matches.

A win over the Czech Republic on Tuesday at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in the small northern French town of Lens is a must - but potentially not enough.



Other results across the six groups will probably have to fall in place for the Turks to make it to the round of 16 as one of the best third-place teams.

Turkey’s not going to be helped by its goal difference, which currently stands at a parlous minus 4 after a 1-0 defeat to Croatia and a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Spain.

“Our motto is: It’s not over until we say it’s over,” Turkey coach Fatih Terim said Monday. “I am always realistic. It would be our biggest achievement if we qualify from this group. This was a group of death. I was not expecting (two defeats) but if we can get out of this crisis, we can go far.”

Terim, in his third spell as Turkey coach having also being in charge in the 1990s and from 2005-09, has firsthand experience of how a seemingly parlous situation can suddenly change.

In Euro 2008, Turkey looked like it was going home in its final group match, again against the Czech Republic.

Down 2-0 with just 15 minutes to go in the match, the team then scored three times to pull off a remarkable come-from-behind victory and earn itself a berth in the quarterfinals, instead of the Czech Republic.

In its quarterfinal against Croatia, Turkey fell behind in the second-last minute of extra time only to score an equalizer in injury time and force a penalty shootout, which it duly won.

Terim said he would remind his team of what happened eight years ago to boost its self-belief ahead of Tuesday’s match.

“Of course I want to give this feeling to my players,” the coach said. “Not only in 2008, but in the qualifiers as well, we had many obstacles but we overcame them.”

Qualifying for Euro 2016, Turkey recovered from a slow start to beat the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Iceland in its last three qualifiers to grab its berth in the competition.

An enticing game looks in prospect as both sides will need a victory to qualify for the round of 16. After its two games, the Czech Republic only has one point.

“If we draw, both teams are out,” Terim said. “It will be like a chess game.”

Despite its two straight defeats at Euro 2016 and the four goals conceded, goalkeeper Volkan Babacan still fancied Turkey’s chances.

“We believe in it, we have a long way to go in this tournament,” he said. “We were not expecting to start in such a negative way but, like in the qualifiers, we can still make it tomorrow. We have done it before.”

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