Veikkausliiga transfer update

The new year has seen a flurry of confirmed transfers, as well as a few trials that might lead to permanent moves. Some clubs are busier than others, with one in particular seemingly in the business of fire-fighting rather than planning for the future right now. Tampere United have seen chairman Jari Viita depart, after a season in which they lost around €200,000. Viita’s company lost €2.7m last year, and he is not in a great position to bail out TamU.

Winter recruitment has therefore been a painful process for TamU, with 17 year-olds Johannes Mononen and Juha Pirinen joining the club from Jippo and Haka respectively, and Aleksei Kangaskolkka signing from MyPa. While the chance for youth to shine is welcome, the somewhat frantic efforts to offload TamU’s saleable assets point to a less settled strategy.

Tomi Petrescu has signed for Ascoli on a loan until the 15th of April, with the option to make the move permanent at that point, while Henri Myntti is bewilderingly spoilt for choice as he ponders which club to sign for. Myntti is a freakishly tall player, who used to be a blunder-prone centre back but was converted last season into a Veikkausliiga goal machine, playing up front for TamU and heading everything that came his way and bagging 13 goals in 23 league games.

Myntti went to FC Saturn on trial at the end of last season, signed an improved contract with TamU, and is now on trial at Hansa Rostock after apparently turning down a move to Romania. More on the fun and games at Ratina Stadium later in the week.

HJK full back Jukka Raitala is on trial at Newcastle United. Raitala had a good season with HJK, playing 23 games and impressing with Finland’s successful under-21 side, and has attracted attention from Greece as well as West Bromich Albion, where he had a trial in the autumn.

Other current trials include FF Jaro’s central defender Jonas Portin, who is currently at NEC Nijmegen, and Brazilian midfielder Luiz Vanderlei, who MyPa are looking over. Vanderlei has been at Tornio club TP-47 for the past two years and adds a touch of class to teams in need of a playmaker.

European Under 21 Championship Qualifying: Finland 2 Denmark 1

So, FInland are in the play-offs. A good performance from everyone, with special mentions for Juha Hakola, Tim Sparv and substitute Jarno Parikka, and it was a good attendance too. The support from the Finland fans was mentioned in Niklas Hägen’s excellent report in HBL, in particular that there were songs to the tune of YMCA and the “hakkaa päälle” chant (something like “go and get them”, I’ve only heard it in war movies but someone will doubtless be along to correct me).

Speaking to journalists after the game, Tomi Petrescu (who scored the game-winner) expressed his delight at the number of fans.
-I’m glad the fans have interest in our U21 team too. I loved hearing their chants and support, Petrescu said.

I was most impressed with Hakola, probably because he plays for FC Flora in Estonia and I’ve not seen too much of him before. It was his flick that set Mehmet Hetemaj free for the opening goal, and he seemed to scare the Danes whenever he had the ball. Turunen and Portin were the pairing in central defence and were rarely troubled until the final minutes, when Finland’s midfield collapsed to the 18 yard line, and the exclusion of an in-form Joni Aho shows the strength in depth at this level.

Head coach Markku Kanerva singled out Hakola and the central defenders too, but first and foremost he wanted to give credit to the whole team.
-We knew it was going to be a tight affair, but the whole team wanted to win. I am very proud of my players.

I would have no qualms about this team being promoted to the senior squad en masse, if Finland fall out of contention for the World Cup. They are not the finished article, but they never will be if they don’t get a chance at the top level.

Stuart Baxter, head coach of the national team, went down to the dressing room after the game and personally congratulated the team.

The Danish side, on the other hand, are out of the play-offs. They were seemingly frustrated after the game, and goalkeeper Kasper Smeichel even did his best to redecorate the dressing room area.

Finland will play an away game in Slovenia on the 9th. The play-off draw will follow three days later. Kanerva did not want to speculate on the draw yet.
-No matter who we play, we have two difficult games coming up. I don’t want to speculate on the opponent. Regardless of who we will be playing, we have enough time between the draw and the first leg to find out as much as we can about our opposition, Kanerva told the journos.

  • EDIT* All the quotes come from Juha, who was actually at the game. I just watched it on telly.