Bring in the Owls

Eagle owl (Bubo bubo) is a beautiful bird, and very adaptable. It usually lives in forest and woods, but can obviusly get on in urban environment as well. There are said to be at least five eagle owl couples residing around the centre of Helsinki, and one of them has chosen the Olympic Stadium as its home.

It’s called Bubi – referring both to its Latin name and to the nickname of Bror-Erik Wallenius, YLE’s legendary sport commentator – and it made an impressive appearance in yesterday’s qualifier, entering the scene in the middle of the first half. First it landed on the pitch and then, after the referee had stopped the match, flew to Finland’s crossbar, and from there to Belgium’s. This clip shows how Bubi scares the crap out of a Belgium player, by making an awe-inspiring false attack.

The game was paused for almost ten minutes and when it continued, after the owl had elegantly taken a seat behind Finland’s goal, Jonathan Johansson soon scored. This may or may not have a direct link to the ornithological incident just witnessed, but now the Finnish national team – from now on, Huuhkajat, i.e. the Eagle Owls – has nevertheless a new mascot.

Johansson played well, as did the Eremenko brothers – Udinese’s young Roman had a great debut is surely a new regular middfielder, given that Finland has very few potential ‘anchors’ who are able to complete passes. Defence made a couple of minor gaffes, though were largely saved by the inescapable fact that contemporary Belgium are just the group’s sixth best team. Armenia are quite likely to overhaul them at the end of the qualification day; yesterday the sons of Ararat beat Poland in Yerevan, injecting some extra excitement into the autumn rounds.

As a concluding anectode, your contributor would like to point out that if it’s an urbanised city owl who had air superiority over the olympic stadium, then it is definitely Satu Kunnas, women’s national team’s goalkeeper, who controlled the ground. She’s a policewoman as her profession, and was assigned to look after the B20, positioning herself in front of the stadium’s owlest fan section. Your contributor is certainly not the master of hearing such opportunities knocking, let alone knocking them off, but if there ever was a moment for an intentionally failed pitch invasion, it was last night.

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