TURKEY

Istanbul sides to clash on 13 April after security scare

Istanbul sides to clash on 13 April after security scare
STRINGER EFE

Istanbul giants Galatasaray and Fenerbahce will clash in a crunch derby on 13 April after the original fixture was cancelled over fears of a terror attack, the Turkish Football Federation said on Monday.

The match, which was due to have been played on 20 March, was postponed for security reasons even as fans were starting to enter the ground.

The move came a day after a suicide bomber with links to the Islamic State (IS) group blew himself up in Istanbul's busiest shopping street, killing three Israelis and one Iranian.

The chairman of the Turkish Football Federation Yildirim Demiroren said the new date had been agreed as a compromise after Fenerbahce pushed for April 6 and Galatasaray April 28.

"Both clubs have expressed their respect for this decision and I thank them for looking on this positively," he said, quoted by Turkish media.

No precise information was given on the nature of the threat to the postponed game but the Istanbul governor's office said the cancellation was due to 'serious information'.

The tensely-contested derby match, always seen as the highlight of the Turkish football calendar, will be of crucial importance as Fenerbahce seek to impose their title credentials.

Burdened by a dreadful start to the season, Galatasaray are out of title contention in fifth place. But Fenerbahce are locked in a tight race for the title with Istanbul's other main side, Besiktas.

Besiktas currently lead Fenerbahce by four points but the yellow-kitted canaries have a game in hand after the postponement of the Galatasaray derby.

Galatasaray may have to play the match without Dutchman Wesley Sneijder, who picked up an injury last week during the Netherlands' clash with France.