Dodgy refs, table-topping stutterers and Daniel Nwoke

TamU had a bizarre night in Lahti last Friday, with an odd refereeing performance, a crucial goalkeeping mistake, three goals in the last minute and a questionable red card, but nobody said anything about match fixing.  You can see the highlights of their 2-2 draw here.

On saturday I went to valkeakoski to see FC Haka vs FC Honka. These two clubs are the last remaining Finnish teams in Europe this season, and to be honest they weren’t that good. Honka got a last minute winner as hundreds of former Haka players swelled the gate to a pathetic 1,500, the old boys being invited as part of a reunion.

Aleksandr Kokko is a decent enough striker, but he was fouled a lot and the referee offered no help. I judge him to be of little threat to TamU’s lethal weapon Henri Myntti at the top of the goalscoring charts, but even so I think Honka are a decent side who will cause some upsets in the title race this year. Honka got a last minute winner and looked a solid bet for third place, or maybe second if HJK mess up their difficult run-in. You can see the goals here.

On Sunday it was Tammela Stadium for me, and TPV against PK-35.  Two words to say about this: Daniel Nwoke. If he doesn’t get a new contract at TamU he will tear Ykkönen apart, but he can probably do a job at Veikkausliiga level. I don’t think he’s that much worse than King Henri, but for whatever reason he hasn’t clicked at TamU and it might be best for everyone if he moves on. PK-35 certainly couldn’t live with him, his finishing and passing were very good and he led the team well. No highlights of this one I’m afraid, but TPV won 2-0 and played much better than their league position suggests. They won’t be relegated this year.

On Monday the two title contenders met at Finnair Stadium in Helsinki. It was an excellent game between two evenly matched teams, but it was in the end decided by errors. Patrick Bantamoi should have come off injured before the freekick that gave HJK their first goal, Jos Hooiveld should have stayed closer to Dawda Bah for the second, and Domagol Abramovic was very grateful for slack HJK passing for his second. Medo got the winner in the last minute with a deflected strike. On this evidence Inter are a better team and will win the title, especially given the tough games HJK have coming up. You can see the highlights here.

One thing for HJK to note: stick a few of the free tickets up near the journos next time you want a big crowd, because a 7,000+ crowd does not look credible when you know the names of everyone in the stand. And that is only 20 people. Jonas Von Wendt mentioned this in Hufvudstadsbladet today, saying the crowd was probably around 5,000, and it certainly felt that way. I still can’t get my head round a stadium that  only holds 10,770 people and manages to make them all so far away from the pitch. What’s the point?

I would talk about PoPa’s American who uses the word ‘twat’ (a very British swear word) when abusing linesmen, but I’m very tired and I reckon that probably deserves it’s own post. Tomorrow, maybe.

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4 Responses

  1. Then again, while Inter are a good team, they are vulnerable and one of the reasons they have been so succesful is because they have one very good player for every part of the field: Bantamoi as keeper, Hooiveld in defence, Chatto in midfield and Purje in attack. Should one of them – or, even worse, two, get injured, they are not as good a team anymore. HJK, on the other hand, have more options.

    HJK suffer from the fact that the league has again made the schedule so that the teams who are considered title candidates play against each other in the final rounds. That means HJK are going to play TamU, TPS and Honka while Inter, who were not expected to win the title in the spring, have it easier. Then again, what does it matter? You play twice against all teams anyway.

    The upcoming weeks are going to be interesting. Inter have lost once and it is interesting to see whether their young team can overcome and go on winning. I don’t see HJK dropping too many points, despite their tough schedule. After all, they played badly and still won Inter.

  2. The notion of HJK suffering from the schedule is quite amusing. Their first four games from this campaign were against IFK, KTP, VPS and KuPS. The first (pre-season) title contender they played was Tampere United, at home. In TamU’s first four games they had a trip to Rovaniemi and games against Haka and TPS, two ‘title contenders’ according to last season’s form, and they were out of the race very quickly. I find it difficult to take seriously claims that HJK have ‘suffered’ from fixture list compilation in any way whatsoever.

    Regarding Inter: if two of Corpache, Aho, Chatto and Hooiveld get injured then they might have problems. But otherwise those players are capable of covering for each other more than adequately. They have a small squad, but that’s just the way it is. They’ve dealt with it okay so far and there are only two months and 8 matches left.

  3. I think you missed my point to some extent. Yes, they started the season against “smaller teams”, but I’m arguing that they’d prefer not playing the tough teams now since everyone knows what’s at stake. “Suffering” may be the wrong word to use, but I hope I managed to clarify my point in the end. Of course, in the end the schedule has not much significance in the sense that all teams must be played twice (as I said).

    The Inter defence has been unexpectedly good. They played their worst game of the season on Monday, but if they can recover they will be extremely hard to beat. I think we’re gonna have a proper race this year!

  4. Yeah, I think you’re right: it doesn’t really matter. It’s Inter’s title to lose, effectively, and injuries might be one way of that happening.

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