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Antep and Eagles vie for points in week 3 opener.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- Gaziantepspor hosts championship contender BeE-iktaE- in the opening match in week three of the Spor Toto Super League at Kamil Ocak Stadium on Friday night.

BeE-iktaE-, also called the Black Eagles, is a perpetual championship contender, even though the illustrious ystanbul team last lifted the coveted league trophy in the 2008-09 season. Gaziantepspor, on the other hand, is a perpetual also-ran that competes with the sole aim of avoiding the drop and being able to continue in the Turkish topflight the following season.

But looking at the Super League standings after two weeks of play, both Gaziantepspor and BeE-iktaE- have won one and drawn one -- and therefore appear to be on equal footing with three points apiece going into Friday's game.

E[currency]enol GE-neE-'s Eagles started the season with a bang, bashing Mersin ydmanyurdu 5-2 away in the opener to perch atop the 18-strong league standings. But the ystanbul team collapsed like a house built on sand in week two at home on Saturday, losing 1-0 at home to Black Sea side Trabzonspor.

'Happy Gunner'

Gaziantepspor, coached by 44-year-old former BeE-iktaE- left back Mutlu Topcu (meaning "Happy Gunner"), got off to terrible start following a 3-0 home defeat by rampant KasympaE-a. But Topcu and his men rebounded in week two to beat depleted 2009-10 champion Bursaspor 1-0 away.

This situation adds meaning to Friday's clash since both teams will be going all out for victory.

Injury-hit and highly indebted BeE-iktaE- is looking for midfield reinforcements after losing Tolgay Arslan and Veli Kavlak to injury.

But the Eagles got some sad news on Wednesday, when Chairman Orman Fikret confirmed that Liverpool will not let their 28-year-old Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva go during the current transfer window.

"Liverpool do not want him to go. The transfer can only go ahead with their say, so there is nothing we can do right now," the Liverpool Echo quoted Orman as saying.

The 28-year-old Lucas was widely reported to be on his way out of Anfield after being left out of manager Brendan Rodgers's squad for their first two league games of the season against Stoke City and Bournemouth.

Lucas, who has two years to run on his contract, returned to the starting line-up for Monday's goalless draw with Arsenal following an injury to skipper Jordan Henderson and Rodgers praised his performance against the Gunners.

"Lucas is our best defensive midfield player," Rodgers said after the Arsenal game.

"There are games where I play three midfield players but not always with a defensive specific one, but when we do need that, he is the best one we have," the manager added.

Now that the Black Eagles have missed out on Lucas, they must make hay while the sun is still shining and acquire the players they need before the summer transfer window, which opened on June 9 and closes on Aug. 31, ends.

The new coach may have a hard time forming a team for Friday's match due to suspension and injuries. BeE-iktaE- will be missing Portugal striker Ricardo Quaresma, who was sent off in the Saturday game against Trabzonspor for a second bookable offense.

Furthermore, Serbia left back Dusko Tosic, signed from Genclerbirliy-i in pre-season, is on the walking wounded list and therefore doubtful against Antep. Kickoff is at 9.15 p.m.

BeE-iktaE- and Antep are equal on points, but the pressure nevertheless will be on the Black Eagles. If Mutlu's men lose at home, it will be seen as a foregone conclusion. But if they beat the Eagles, then it will be a huge, huge upset.


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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Date:Aug 27, 2015
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