Veikkausliiga Round 25 Preview

Honka v TamU

This is a rehearsal for the Cup Semi final on Wednesday. TamU have nothing to play for in the league, and a big game against the same opponents on Wednesday. On the other hand, they probably won’t want to go into that game off the back of a heavy defeat.

“We got to rest a bit, and now we have a very good feeling,” Honka’s striker Aleksandr Kokko told his club’s website. “TamU have drawn some games and got two 1-0 wins in their last two games. They are in good condition, but so are we and we’ll be ready to take three points on Saturday.”

Kokko is one of the people who will be disappointed when Henri Myntti wins the Golden Boot this year. He’s not admitting defeat yet though, bless his Pori socks.

“Sure it’d be great, if Myntti didn’t score and I got at least one. It’s really not important, the important thing is to win.”

That’s right Aleks, let yourself down gently.

TamU have a lengthy injury list, but should welcome back Chris James into midfield, while Honka have a full squad, pretty much.

This may or may not be updated with the other games later, when I get back from TPV-Atlantis.

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FC Haka v Cork City preview

This should be in today’s Irish Daily Mail:

Cork City manager Alan Mathews is expected to name an unchanged team for his side’s UEFA Cup First Qualifying Round clash with Finnish club FC Haka tonight. Cork need at least a high scoring draw after the first leg at Turner’s Cross finished 2-2, but there was an upbeat mood among the Cork squad as they trained in hot sunny weather at Haka’s Tehtaan Kenttä ground yesterday afternoon.

Cork are aiming to emulate the aggressive, up-tempo game that saw City claw back a two goal deficit in the first leg. Haka will welcome back the calming influence of 38 year-old Russian playmaker Valeri Popovitch, who did not travel to Ireland because he is afraid of flying.

The Finnish club have won nine Finnish Championships, more than any other club except HJK Helsinki, but off-field issues have dominated their start to the 2008 season.

The Valkeakoski side were initially refused a licence to play in this season’s UEFA Cup because their finances were not in order. Part of the solution came when the local council bought all the tickets for the home leg of the First Round tie, and then distributed them free of charge.

A capacity crowd of 3,500 is expected at the stadium, which has a pleasantly wooded setting on three sides, and a foul-smelling wood pulp factory on the other.

The pulp factory is a symbol of the previous backers of the club, United Paper Mills. After they pulled the plug on Haka, local nightclub owner Seppo ‘Sedu’ Koskinen stepped in and bought the club, promising to glamorise football in the small industrial town of Valkeakoski.

The 51 year old owner has promised to increase the ‘buzz’ around Haka games by inviting Finnish celebrities to Haka games, and has suggested that Haka players will need to be good-looking in future so as to ensure plenty of women turn up.

Cork will be without striker John O’Flynn, who has not yet recovered from his ligament injury. Haka’s Mikko Innanen and Pieteri Holopainen were injured in Sunday’s 1-0 win over VPS Vaasa and will be replaced by first leg goalscorer Janne Mahlakaarto and Jarno Mattila.

Probable line-ups

Haka: Dovbnya, Mattila, Kangaskorpi, Viljanen, Okkonen, Mattila, Kauppila, Manninen, Popovitch, Lehtinen, Mahlakaarto

Cork: Devine, Horgan, Murray, Sullivan, Danny Murphy, Healy, Gamble, Darren Murphy, Kearney, Behan, Mooney.

Veikkausliiga Round 12 (kind of preview)

TamU lost 2-1 to Honka yesterday, with King Henri Myntti getting the goal for TamU. I didn’t go, as i got drunk in the afternoon and managed to forget about it until it was rather late. Such is the Finnish summer. Sounded like a crap game, but at least the King is still scoring and will be difficult to drop for the game against Buducnost. I hope they have really small central defenders.

HJK v FC Haka

El superclassico magnifico, according to the Finnish media. Seppo ‘Sedu’ Koskinen, purveyor of alcoholic misery to every two bit hick town in Finland, has been active with Haka recently. He has money, which is good, but he has ‘new ideas’, which are very bad. I haven’t looked at the tabloids this week, but I shudder to think what ridiculous banalities he’s coming out with. I think HJK will edge it. It’s Juho Mäkelä’s second to last game before he goes back to Hearts, and he is bang in form and desperate to keep playing. Kalle Parviainen coming back for Haka is a plus, but Popovitch has not been great. I would expect Medo to run rings round him today.

IFK Mariehamn v FC Lahti

IFK are poor at home, but Lahti might be feeling fragile after last week’s last minute collapse at Haka. Ilkka Mäkelä and Rafael have important roles to play, as coach and senior player, and we will see what Lahti are made of today. Their quick passing and mobile midfield have the potential to demolish IFK, but then again their fragility when exposed to high balls into the box will be tested by IFK. Ingves, Ochieng, J. Carlsson, Norrmen, Sjölund, Blomberg, Binnion, Isaksson and Överström are out for IFK, Sassila and possibly Kärkkäinen for Lahti.

KuPS v FF Jaro

A must win game for KuPS. They could be without Sesay, and Jaro are very good on the counter. I go for a draw.

VPS v RoPS

About as close to a local derby as RoPS will get this season, so maybe they will improve their poor away record. They will be without Mweetwa, VPS will be missing Ekström and Ylinen. I would love to see VPS start Ederho, he looks like he will terrify defenders with his pace when he finally gets a chance. If he plays with Jan Ahlvik, who is something like Henri Myntti up front, I can see the pair of them tearing Veikkausliiga defences apart. Ahlvik wins everything in the air and passes the ball well, if he had Ederho making runs off him he could be very good indeed.

FC Inter v MyPa

Inter really have to win this. They’re still unbeaten, but consistently concede late equalisers, and teams are closing in on them in the league table. MyPa are a tidy outfit but nothing that special, on the other hand they are probably better than the teams Inter have wobbled against recently. I tentatively predict an away win. This game is on Urheilukanava at 7pm on Monday.

KTP v TPS

I’d laugh my nuts off if TPS contrived to lose this one, but I can’t really see that happening despite the Tepsi tendency to provide entertainment for everyone in Finnish football, except their own fans.

Veikkausliiga Round 11 Preview

IFK Mariehamn v Tampere United

IFK have a fearsome injury list, but despite that they looked quite solid at Haka last week. Ingves, Ochieng, J. Carlsson, Norrmen, Sjölund, Blomberg, Binnion, Isaksson and Överström are all out, but their remaining players seem to be coping okay. Most importantly, their tough centre backs seem well equipped to deal with the all new, lump-it-up-to-the-big-man Tampere United. TamU will start with Henri Myntti up front, and we will see if his good form can be maintained against a physical Veikkausliiga team. Left back Aalto and winger Scheweleff are missing for TamU, the first leaves a big whole for Saarinen to attempt to fill while the second has barely played this year.

FC Haka v FC Lahti

I’m looking forward to this one, as it is usually a keenly fought game. Last year Berat Sadik and Rafael led a brilliant counter-attacking smash and grab raid to come away with a 2-1 win. Having lost Muurinen and Sadik, I’ll be impressed if they pull the same off again, but coach Ilkka Mäkelä is a former Haka player and has a lot of friends in Valkeakoski. He won’t want to be embarrassed, and hopefully the game will be quite feisty. Nikkila and Strandvall are out for Haka, Vanninen for Lahti.

MyPa v KuPS

KuPS really need a win after a couple of narrow defeats have left them five points adrift of safety. They were unlucky at TamU, and I expect them to play the same kind of defensive, counter-attacking game at MyPa. Provided they’re not too demoralised after the home loss to Honka, they could put up stiff resistance. On the other hand, MyPa are unbeaten in 12 and on the fringes of the European places. Even with Juho Nykänen, Kuami Agboh, Hugo Miranda and Aleksei Kangaskolkka all out, they should beat KuPS.

FC Honka v FC Inter

Inter are having something of a wobble, or as much of a wobble as a team who haven’t lost a game this season can be said to be having a wobble. Wobble isn’t really the word. Blip? Hiccup? None of those quite cover it either. They’ve conceded last minute equalisers in the last two games, coach Job Dragtsma thinks they need to improve their concentration, and now they are without influential midfielder Dominic Chatto for a tricky away game in Espoo after he picked up a booking against TamU to get a suspension. Both teams try and play football, so it should be an excellent game to watch if you’re in the capital city region tomorrow. Chatto, Furuholm, Seppälä and Corpache are the players out for Inter, with just Koskinen as a doubt for Honka.

RoPS v KTP

What to say about this one? Certain home win. Ikävalko and Okafor are out for KTP, RoPS have a full squad. If results go their way RoPS could be up to 5th place in the table by tomorrow evening.

FF Jaro v VPS

This is a big Ostrobothnian derby. jaro will be looking to bounce back from their cup defeat in Tornio, while VPS will be hoping that Tim Sparv’s return to Halmstad won’t disrupt their good form too much. The best-named Finnish footballer, Antonio Inutile, will be playing for VPS but Ekströmand Tuuri won’t. Saranpää is a doubt. Striker Mikko Hyyrynen is the only player out for Jaro, which leaves a baldy headed hole for some young tyro to fill (there is a ‘hungry young tyro’ factory in Pietersaari, and they do special deals for FF Jaro).

Veikkausliiga Round Eight preview

FC Lahti v FF Jaro

Lahti are missing Vanninen, while Jaro will be without Kullström, Je. Portin, Junnila, Koivisto, Svanbäck and Wargh. With Jaro in awful form following two 4-0 defeats, it should be a home win. But then this is Lahti…

TPS v IFK Mariehamn

TPS are without Valakari, Heinikangas, Ääritalo, Cleaver and Sarajärvi, and IFK will leave Norrmén, Sjölund, Rikama, Isaksson and Blomberg in Mariehamn. TPS are formidable at home and will be looking to put their campaign back on track.

HJK v MyPa

No players out bar the long-term injuries, but both teams will want to win to get back among the chasing pack behind Inter. It could well be a draw.

KTP v Honka

Honka don’t travel well, and even though KTP are without Ikävalko and Vartiainen I expect them to get something out of this game. They have to get a point sometime, don’t they? Honka travel without Koskinen, Patronen and possibly Weckström.

KuPS v Inter

Kinnaslampi, Hartikainen are out for kuPS, while Inter travel to Kuopio with a 17 man squad excluding Furuholm, who is out for the season, and Gustafsson, who played for Inter’s farm team Sinimustat yesterday.

Haka v RoPS

No injury news as yet, but it should be a home win after haka’s emphatic victory in Pietersaari. popvitch can still do the business, especially when his team mates also turn up to play.

VPS v TamU

Again, no team news, but TamU have never won in Vaasa. I’d be surprised if they did so tomorrow.

Veikkausliiga Round Seven preview

TamU v KTP

Sheweleff is the only absentee for TamU, Ikavalko for KTP in this relegation six-pointer. IF this isn’t a home win I’ll be surprised, but not so surprised that the odds on ladbrokes make sense. TamU are awful right now, and so are KTP. Anything could happen, and KTP are under significantly less pressure.

Honka v HJK

Koskinen and Haarala are out for Honka, Taulo for HJK. It’s a local derby, but HJK looked quite impressive the other day. It’s on UTV at 7pm.

Mariehamn v KuPS

IFK are missing Norrmén, Sjölund, Rikama, Isaksson, Ochieng, Binnion, Carlsson D, and Carlsson J. KuPS are without Kinnaslampi. KuPS have slightly better form and have done okay away from home.

Inter v VPS

Furuholm is out for Inter, VPS are at full strength. Funny feeling about this one, it’ll be an interesting test for Tim Sparv. I wish I could go and see it actually.

RoPS v TPS

TPS still have their midfielders out: Cleaver, Valakari, Sarajärvi, Heinikangas and Ääritalo. RoPS will be without Bauer. I expect RoPS to win.

Jaro v Haka

Kalle Parviainen is seeing a doctor today about the injury he picked up against MyPa, so haka’s defence will be weak. Jaro are without Jens Portin and Junnila, but they played okay against TPS despite losing 4-0. With Haka’s confidence very low, they could crumble once again if the first goal goes against them. With Popovitch anything is possible, and so long as Minninen is there to help provide an attacking focus Haka have a chance.

MyPa v Lahti

Äijälä and Agboh are out for MyPa. Vanninen and Shala will be missing from the Lahti squad. This is a big local derby, with Rafael returning to his former club, and should be a good atmosphere.

Veikkausliiga round six preview

Lahti vs Honka

Honka travel to Lahti fresh from their goalfest against Haka, with only Koskinen out inured. Heilala is doubtful for them. Lahti will be missing Shala in midfield, and possibly Kainu and Korte. Both sides have a player in Baxter’s Finland squad, and both teams are bang in form.

Haka vs MyPa

Haka are without defenders Viljanen and Okkonen, but other than that are at full strength. MyPa have Agboh and Nykänen out, and might fancy their chances at a Haka side that must be low on confidence. Haka’s last game ‘didn’t look like a 7-0’ according to my source, and Popovitch can still dictate a game, so the first goal will be crucial. Haka might crumble if it goes against them.

TPS vs Jaro

TPS are without an entire midfield: Cleaver, Valakari, Sarajärvi, Heinikangas and Ääritalo. Kiko is doubtful, and with all those players out it’ll be tough for Tepsi. Pertot is in form, if he can win this on his own he’ll be a hero – Jaro are a tightly organised team and could pose TPS problems, especially as their only injuries are Jens Portin and Junnila.

RoPS vs IFK Mariehamn

Rops will be missing ‘Jack’ Bauer, and joint top scorer Zeddy Saileti is doubtful, along with Edeipo. IFK will be without Sjölund, Norrmén, Rikama, Isaksson and goalkeeper Willis Ochieng, with Binnion doubtful. I think this’ll be a home win.

KTP vs Inter

Ikävalko is still out for KTP, apart from that they are at full ‘strength’. Inter are missing Furuholm and could start with Angolan striker Antonio Correia or move Ats Purje slightly further forward. They could probably beat KTP with Tarja Halonen playing up front though, so it doesn’t really matter.

VPS vs KuPS

VPS are at full strength, and HuPS are missing only Kinnaslampi. This is the kind of game they should be looking to get points from if they’re to avoid a relegation scrap.

HJK vs TamU

Can’t find a preview yet, but it all depends on what kind of team TamU field. I reserve judgement, as I’m sure Hjelm will start doing things properly soon.