In Istanbul, Martin and Gönül invited me to join them at the 2014 World Cup Qualifier between Turkey and Romania. It was a little difficult to find each other in the sea of everyone wearing red, but I met them outside of Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadyumu in Kadıköy an hour before the game.
We had fantastic seats right at midfield. The atmosphere at the beginning of the game was festive and a bit loud. There was a good-sized Romanian contingent placed within a protective cage in one of the corners.
When the national anthems were sung, we were right underneath the giant Turkish flag that was unfurled over the crowd. It was quite an experience!
The national anthem was pretty much the highlight of the game. Once the game started, it was all downhill. Although the crowd remained enthusiastic throughout the first half, it was a very boring affair with little action. It was quite frustrating to watch at times, and the crowd echoed their sentiment loudly with whistles and boos.
The second half made the Turkish fans a bit restless. The rest of the game was more of a battle for possession and lacked any flair from either side. Neither keeper saw much trouble. In the end, Romania came away victorious 1-0.
It was a great experience to attend a World Cup qualifier even though the game was a dud. Gönül was quite disappointed with the result while Martin and I were more disappointed with the quality of play overall. Below are the highlights of the match…or lowlights, however you look at it: