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Australia U17 to clash with Turkey on Anzac Day

The Australia U17 men's football team, the Qantas Joeys, are preparing for the inaugural Australia-Turkey Friendly Football match.

The match will coincide with Anzac Day with two of Australia's brightest young stars are preparing for the biggest games of their careers.

The game, to be played in Canakkale - near Gallipoli - takes on special significance for Australian strikers Kerem Bulut and Ersin Kaya, both of whom are of Turkish descent.

Both sets of parents were born in Turkey, before emigrating to Australia, where Bulut and Kaya were born and learned to play football.

"It's the biggest game of my career and it's pretty emotional,'' said Melbourne-born Mustafa Animi.

"It's special, playing the country of my background and it's exciting for me and my family.''

With the Qantas Joeys games either side of Anzac Day, the players will attend the Lone Pine commemorative service in Gallipoli on Saturday, while Football Federation Australia CEO, Ben Buckley, and most of the team officials will attend the Dawn Service.

Before departing for Europe, the Joeys visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra where they were given further education about the events which led to the landing on Gallipoli in 1915.

Bulut, who is set to play in attack with Kaya, said it helped the team gain a greater appreciation for Anzac Day.

"We learnt more about the history and what went on between both countries and that's why this game is so sentimental for us,'' Sydney-born Bulut said.

"With all the events surrounding the match, it's exciting for us and it should be a good game and hopefully a lot of the Australians who are coming here for Anzac Day can turn up and support us.

"It's a good hit out for both teams, because they're still involved in the European qualifiers so they will be taking the game very seriously.''

Buckley said that the annual event is important in helping build long term relationships with Turkey.

"But it is also important for us as individuals, whether Australian or Turkish."

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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