Montella Criticizes UEFA’s Decision on Demiral Ahead of Clash with Netherlands

At a pre-match press conference held ahead of Turkey’s 2024 UEFA European Championship (EURO 2024) quarter-final match against the Netherlands, Turkey’s national team coach Vincenzo Montella and national player Ferdi Kadıoğlu shared their thoughts and answered questions from the media.

Speaking at the Berlin Olympic Stadium, where the match will take place, Vincenzo Montella criticized UEFA’s decision to suspend Merih Demiral, stating that the penalty was unfair and would not diminish Turkish pride.

Vincenzo Montella: “This penalty will not diminish Turkish pride”

Commenting on the two-match suspension given to Merih Demiral for his “wolf” gesture during the Turkey vs. Austria match, Montella said, “We believe this penalty is unfair because it was not a political gesture. It was misinterpreted. This penalty will not diminish Turkish pride. We will step onto the field with even greater passion, honor, and pride, aiming to make our country proud. I’m sure everyone will be highly motivated. This also applies to our fans.”

Expressing pride in his players’ performance, Montella said, “We faced a lot of criticism during the friendly matches last month. You are not always able to field the ideal eleven. Therefore, changes are necessary. Every player knows what to do when they enter the field. I am proud of all of them. Everyone has played excellent matches so far. As a coach, I take pride in that.”

“We will take the field with confidence”

When asked if they feel close to the final since they are at the stadium where the final will be held, Montella responded, “We must approach each game as it comes, rather than setting specific targets. We are following the matches. We will take the field with confidence. We must remain humble and manage our emotions. We are the youngest team in the tournament. Very few of our players have played at this level before. Our focus must be on this match, and we want to win.”

When reminded of the heavy criticism he faced at the start of the tournament, Montella said, “I know this very well from Italy; the coach is responsible for everything. Therefore, we must accept criticism. Sometimes it can be justified and thought-provoking. Sometimes it can be unfair. Sometimes it can make you laugh. If you cannot handle criticism, you cannot be a coach.”

“Our fans were fantastic in all the matches”

Montella, when asked about the difference in penalties between Merih and English player Bellingham, who received a fine for his actions, replied, “I don’t look at other teams. I focus on my own team.”

Montella emphasized the tremendous support from Turkish fans since the beginning of the tournament, saying, “Our fans were fantastic. They were amazing in all the matches. They showed their enthusiasm and love from the stadium to the hotel. They always behaved appropriately. I expect the same from them tomorrow. The Dutch fans are also strong, but I haven’t followed them much. We played against Germany here in November, and the stadium was almost entirely filled with Turkish fans.”

“We need to control our emotions during the match”

When asked about the strong bond between him and Turkey, Montella replied, “It’s very simple. I grew up in a small town in Naples, where there were prejudices and racism against Neapolitans. When I came to Turkey, I saw similarities in the mindset. I really feel at home here. I feel like I’ve returned to my childhood. To the fans, I want to say, be yourselves and do what you have done so far. Show your Turkish pride. Stay close to the team and support us. We need to control our emotions during the match. We are the youngest team in the tournament. We need to manage all these emotional aspects and turn them into energy on the field. We are younger and, in a way, might have more energy, which can be an advantage for us.”

Highlighting that three of his players are suspended, which is not a common situation, Montella said, “All the players have done their part. They played great matches. I won’t reveal whether we will use a three or four-man defense today. Kaan might start the match. The only thing I can say is that Kaan should start as the first choice, but we will see. The coach’s job is to create the best attacking opportunities and build a balanced team. We are an attacking-minded team. You can see this clearly from our statistics and the goals we’ve scored. Ferdi is an offensive player, and honestly, I wasn’t affected by this situation. But we also played with a striker and scored goals. We have a few options, and we will use them according to our needs.”

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