Tampere United had a decent game yesterday by all accounts, holding their own against Bordeaux and coming away with a creditable 1-1 draw. It makes the goals conceded in injury time in the first leg even more irritating, as this was evidently a real chance for TamU to progress.
Some strange selections from Ari Hjelm, with Wiss and Petrescu left on the bench in France, but despite missing key players TamU acquitted themselves well.*
Some TamU fans were annoyed with the substitution (Daniel off for Hjelm on 80 mins) but I’m not so sure it was a bad idea. Daniel is not fit enough to play 90 minutes yet, although he did well to score, so bringing him off was maybe a good idea. But I’d be inclined to give Sipilainen a try too at some point. Hjelm will feel the pressure of being a ‘Daddy’s boy’ and I wonder if maybe his development might be best served by a loan spell at a smaller veikkausliiga club (or even in Estonia) where he won’t have that weight on his shoulders.
Massive grumble at ‘TV’, for the second post in a row. The game was not shown in Finland, despite it being the biggest club football match in ages. And they showed the home leg, which most people in Finland could have travelled to see if they’d have wanted to. I do wonder what my licence fee goes to pay for sometimes (and I do actually pay it).
In other news, Antti Niemi is back in the national squad. Bit of a slap in the face for the other keepers this, Hodgson pretty much saying that as the games are so important now we can’t be pissing around with Veikkausliiga players so we’re begging Niemi to join the squad just in case. Still, it shows that qualification is very much in the minds of the players and manager and they really believe they can do it. If they beat Belgium on the 13th it will be difficult not to get a little bit excited. That would leave Finland needing a win against Azerbaijan. I don’t expect Portugal to get maximum points from their October games against Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan away, Big Mad Phil will see to that, so Finland will probably need a draw in Porto on the 21st. Hodgson seems to have been building a team, a squad and a spirit for that, so fingers crossed.
I haven’t said anything about the women’s game last week, because I wrote about it for the Helsinki Times. You can pick that up at train station R-Kioskis and many hotels, or subscribe to it, and I will post the article next week. Suffice to say: the football was good, Finland played well, but organisationally things weren’t so great. That’s not a criticism of Palloliitto, more of the print media and the difficulties women’s football will face unless people start going to watch it. The European Championships are in Finland in 2009, and if people aren’t going to watch (or write about) friendly games, the organisers will have great difficulties in selling the tickets.
*EDIT-I’m reliably informed that both Wiss and Petrescu failed fitness tests and were gutted to miss out. They were named on the bench just in case, but were never going to be able to offer more than 10-15 minutes. Petrescu has definitely not been sold.