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Exclusive: Istanbul BB boss Okan excited chasing Double with Man City heroes

Okan Buruk is relishing the chance to lead Istanbul Basaksehir to Turkish Super Lig glory.

The capital club have worked hard over the past couple of years to usurp the traditional powerhouses in Turkey's biggest city.

Founded in 1990, Istanbul BB have spent only 12 seasons in the top-flight but they are now a team challenging for major honours.

Over the past three seasons, they have finished in second in 2016/17, third in 2017/18 and second last term.

After falling short of Galatasaray by two points last season, Basaksehir replaced Abdullah Avcı with former Inter Milan and Turkey star Buruk.

The 46-year-old worked his way up the Turkish coaching ranks after retiring from playing with Basaksehir in 2010, managing clubs such as Goztepe and Sivasspor.

Basaksehir have been unbeaten in the five games since the season restarted in mid-June after the COVID-19 lockdown.

They are six points ahead of second-placed Trabzonspor, who have a game in hand.

And with three matches remaining, Okan is closing in on his greatest managerial triumph to date.

Speaking about his experience with Tribalfootball, the former Galatasaray midfielder said: "For the first time in my career, I'm in a club competing for the domestic league and the Europa League and we are fighting until the end, being a team that plays to win everything.

"We have both quality and number of players for a big club and I'm really happy to be in a situation like this. Many players with much experience: I've many players and a lot of choice: I'm glad."

Basaksehir are also awaiting the scheduling for their Europa League campaign, with the Turkish club up 1-0 after the first leg of their last-16 tie with FC Copenhagen.

And Buruk is proud of his team's achievements and what their success will bring for Turkish football as a whole.

"It's a first time that, both me and the club, have passed the group stage, it's wonderful!

"And for the results we got, we have given important points to Turkey for the UEFA ranking, so that our country we will keep its place and will bring the same number of teams in the next edition."

European football fans might be used to seeing big name players join Istanbul's traditional three clubs in Besiktas, Fenerbahce and Gala.

But Basaksehir have worked hard to bring experienced heads to their club in recent seasons, including former Premier League stars Robinho, Martin Skrtel, Gael Clichy and Demba Ba. Robinho and Clichy both played in the past for Manchester City, while Skrtel was with Liverpool and Ba at Chelsea and Newcastle United.

And Buruk feels grateful to call upon players with European pedigree.

"All these four players are of a certain level, they are over 30 but they have a lot of experience, big professionalism and I'm very happy to work with them.

"They give us much and we too have kept them well, because, playing many matches on repeat, we gave them the role to bring experience and to have a good relationship with the team. They have done very well, until now: we hope to go on like this."

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