Coach Guus Hiddink has taken full responsibility for Turkey’s 3-0 home defeat to Croatia in the first leg of their Euro 2012 playoff.
Hiddink and his team were booed off by a half-empty Turk Telekom Arena in Istanbul as Croatia strolled to victory, and the Dutchman accepts that he was at fault for Friday’s crushing defeat.
“I am responsible for the results. The players have to execute things properly, but I take full responsibility,” Hiddink said.
“I think second place in qualification behind Germany was a realistic expectation, but were contronted with a team with guys in big leagues who are very strong and very fast.”
“It’s not for nothing that these players play in the Premier League, in the Bundesliga – they have experience in tough competitions.”
Turkey dominated possession in the first half but fell behind to two breakaway goals from the visitors, with the first coming in only the second minute. Hiddink said that was key to the result.
“If you come out in the first minute and badly organised and outplayed very easily, then it’s already a difficult game. We gave them a favour of two counter attacks, which was the killer,” he said.
Looking ahead to Tuesday’s return leg, Hiddink called upon his troops to restore some pride.
“I think it’s very important that the players play for their honour, for themselves, for their country, because let’s face facts, it’s difficult, almost impossible to qualify,” he said.
“Some will get opportunities to play themselves into the team because some young, new player will knock on the door to play.”
Croatia boss Slaven Bilic said he was surprised his men were able to claim such a convincing job: “When you come to such a stadium, nobody expects this score. We knew they were easily affected like us. Then the early goal gave us an advantage,” he said.
“We deserved to win by even more goals. It was fantastic. I want to congratulate all my players. They played the whole match without making any mistakes. It was really amazing.”
“We have some problems with injuries so a lot of our players will not play in Zagreb on Tuesday. Nothing is over yet. It is half-time. There is a hard task in front of us.”