Under 21s to face Scotland without Sparv

Tim Sparv is injured, and won’t play against Scotland this Wednesday in Aberdeen. With Perparim Hetemaj already out and his brother Mehmet injured, it leaves Markku Kanerva’s men a bit short in midfield. Mikko Knuutila has an interesting solution on the Ilta Sanomat blog, namely that Roman Eremenko drops down from the senior squad and joins up with the juniors.

It won’t happen, both Baxter and Kanerva have  said that Eremenko is now an established member of the full squad and might not like dropping down, but it raises an interesting question. The European Championships at Under 21 level are the best chance Finland have of qualifying for a major tournament in the near future (the women don’t have to qualify for 2009). They will take place in Sweden, and if Finland qualify they can be sure to take a lot of fans, at least compared to the other sides there. So why not pull out all the stops to get them there?

The Scotland squad has been depleted by the call-up of Steven Fletcher, one of the few Scots to play well in Vaasa last September and an integral part of the Under 21 team, to the full squad. This has caused consternation among Scottish fans, as he will now take part in a meaningless friendly against Croatia rather than what will be a competitive game that Scotland must win to retain any chance of qualification.

Finland will have Marco Matrone and Jonas Portin, who have both been involved with the B squad recently, and Nicholas Otaru, who looks much older than 22 and is included as an over-age player.

Here’s the table:

Finland 5 5 0 0 8 3 15
Denmark 6 4 1 1 11 2 13
Scotland 4 2 1 1 9 3 7
Slovenia 6 1 1 4 3 10 4
Lithuania 7 0 1 6 2 15 1

Finland’s next game is at home against Denmark in September, a game that will hopefully not be played at Finnair Stadium. The game will be live on FST5 at 19:30 Finnish time, and I think also on the internet somehow. I’ll definitely be watching, but I’m not sure whether I’ll make time for Finland-Bulgaria.

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10 Responses

  1. Excuse me, but do you have any idea if the NT of Finland will have a meeting in Finland before leaving for Bulgaria?

    I am asking ’cause I’m from Sofia, and I’d love to meet them at the airport on Sunday…and if they are all coming from various destinations, it cannot happen.

  2. Actually Mehmet Hetemaj isn’t injured but he is suspended for this match. I really can’t understand the logic of Perparim. Ok, he got injured very badly the last time he played against Scotland but isn’t it a bit naive to boycot all future (at least U21) matches against Scotland. If this is his logic he should drop out of every match includind any scotsmen.

    As for the Hetemaj brothers it’s also possible that they would represent Kosovo in the future! Though that’s very far away at the moment as Kosovo isn’t a member of FIFA or UEFA yet (or a proper country as far as Serbia and Russia are concerned).

    As for Roman Eremenko, he should play for the under 21’s rather than in a meaningless friendly match against Bulgaria. I would love to see Finland playing in a major tournament and that doesn’t happen too often. (Which was the only country that Javier Saviola didn’t score against in the U21 World Championships 2001?)

    And for Nev. It’s likely that most of the players will arrive on a same flight. It’s rumoured that Jari Litmanen was seen on a flight to Helsinki yesterday although Fulham have a match today against Newcastle. But I guess he wouldn’t have featured anyway. Players like Roman Eremenko (Udinese) will probably arrive to Sofia in a different flight. I’d say about 50-60% of the players will fly from Helsinki. Can’t be sure though.

  3. Oh.. and by the way. Otaru is only 21 at the moment (born 15th July 1986). Otaru is the third oldest player in the squad. Joni Aho (FC Inter) was born 12.4.1986 and Ville Jalasto (FC Honka) 19.4.1986.

    Just for the record 😉

  4. Thanks for the corrections. I would love to see the viewing figures for both games, personally I have only a passing interest in the Bulgaria game but am quite excited to see the Under 21s. The game in Vaasa last September was brilliant.

  5. Yle shows the match live on the Internet starting 19.30. FST5 shows it starting 22.20.

  6. Cheers Jouni, I’ll try and stick the link up on Wednesday. I assume it’ll be areena?

    If anyone spots any correct information in this post, feel free to point it out, btw.

  7. I think they’ll probably have a link somewhere else than Areena. At least the few times I’ve watched sports live on Yle website there’s been a link from the news section.

  8. About young players, I see no revolution in senior team about Bulgaria, only a few names like Halsti, Lampi, Aaritalo and Nyman. What young players (under 23) do you think can established in near future? I think about Sparv, Petrescu, Hamalainen, Puustinen, Sadik, Scheweleff, Porokara, Pukki, Hetemaj bross, Santala, Arkivuo… any of that players do you think can be in NT soon?, do they have enough level?…any other players that do you think will be importants?

  9. I think there are very few U23 players outside the now called team that have any chances to take a role in the forthcoming qualifications. Most potential players are Petrescu and older Hetemaj IMO.

    Teemu Pukki is a very talented player, but still too young to take any part (as well as Lauri Dalla Valle, perhaps the most promising talent at the moment). When it comes to names like Scheweleff, Puustinen and Porokara I can see only wasted potential. Sparv could have the potential, but in the midfield there is just too much competition.

  10. I wouldn’t say that Porokara is wasted potential before we have seen him play in the Allsvenskan next season. I think he has improved every year. Last season was a bit difficult to him because every team marked him with two players so there wasn’t much he could do.

    Don’t know about Dalla Valle though. He’s got the potential but he also has a bad record with injuries and with his age that’s not a good thing. Also I think that his father tries to get him to the Italian national team rather than into the Finnish one. I hope his development continues and he chooses Finland.

    If we want to talk about wasted potential I should point in the direction of Niklas Moisander who at the moment plays in the Dutch Eerste Divisie (Zwolle). That’s not “going forward” as Antti Muurinen would say.

    Hämäläinen was unlucky to get such a bad injury few years ago when he was playing exceptionally well with TPS. Time will tell if he can play up to his full potential in the future.

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