Baku, June 16, AZERTAC
“For us, it was just like playing at home”, said Turkey’s head coach Alper Hamarcu after his men's team’s loss to Poland 3-2, the same score by which the Turkish women lost to the Polish women on Saturday.
During one of the most dramatic games of the men's competition so far, the Crystal Hall 1 erupted in loud chants of ‘Turk-I-Ye!’ as the crowd supported Azerbaijan’s neighbours.
But Turkey fell just short of sealing a dramatic comeback win when they were finally defeated 3-2 by the determined Polish team.
“To have such great support from the crowd made us feel very comfortable and welcome here”, said Hamarcu.
Turkey’s captain Ahmet Tocoglu agreed and added: “The home crowd supported us all the way through the game. They created a wonderful atmosphere and we really appreciated their support.
“They inspired us to keep playing when we were losing by two sets and I think we played much better in the third and fourth set thanks to them.”
During a dramatic third set, Turkey recovered several match points to triumph 30-28, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
And the atmosphere went up a notch further in the fourth set, when Turkey won 25-22 and forced the game into a fifth and final set.
But although Hamarcu thanked the crowd for their support, he also believes the pressure may have got to his players as they lost the crucial final set.
“In the fifth set, we were leading 4-1. Maybe we got too nervous, but I don’t understand so we need to find a solution.
“But sometimes when you play at home, you feel too much pressure. Maybe that is why we lost the fifth set, maybe it made us feel nervous.”
Still to come in Pool A, Turkey will play Azerbaijan in a game that will surely raise the roof in Crystal Hall 1.
“I’m not sure what to expect in that game – but I know it will be tough and it will be loud,” said Hamarcu.