Focus On: Vikingur Gota
Last night has been a very important night for Faroese football because the club Vikingur Gota won 1-2 away at Tromso, Norway, and was the first Faroese team ever not only to reach the UEFA Europa League Third Qualifying Round, but to go through two Rounds in a row as well.
Last week the First Leg at home has ended 0-0, in which Vikingur created more chances to score than the Norwegians, but had to thank its Hungarian GK for making a couple crucial saves, while yesterday Tromso IL went 1-0 up after a goal from Simen Wangberg at 51′, but the Faroese team later equalized (1-1 would have been good to qualify on away goals) and won the game thanks to goals from Bárdur Hansen (60′) and Hallur Hansson (77′); anyway it must be said that the match was affected by a red card that was awarded to TIL’s player at 40′, and that surely made life for Vikingur much easier.
Vikingur is a team from the town of Leirvik (867 inhabitants), situated in the island of Eysturoy (10.810 inhabitants), the second largest in the Country: in 2009 the municipality of Leirvik merged with the one of Gøtu, and formed the Eystur Municipality (1.939 inhabitants).
The main teams from Leirvik (Leirvík ÍF, founded in 1928, playing in the second tier) and Gøtu (GÍ Gøta, founded in 1926, playing in the first tier and winner of 6 Faroese Championships and 6 Faroese Cups) in 2007 merged as well (before than the municipalities) and in 2008 started competing in Vodafonedeildin, the first tier, and has usually been in the high part of the table since then: Vikingur, that plays at Sarpugerði (capacity: 3000) in Norðragøta, in the former municipality of Gøtu, has won so far 3 Faroe Islands Cup (2009, 2012 and 2013) and 1 Faroe Super Islands Cup (2014).
Winning so many Cups means that Vikingur has gained the right to play in Europa League few times, four so far:
in 2010/11 entered EL Second Qualifying Roung but was defeated twice by Turkish giant Beşiktaş JK (3-0 and 0-4), while in 2011/12 entered in EL First Qualifying Round and was defeated twice by Belarussian FK Gomel (0-4 and 0-6).
In 2013/14 Europa League things improved and in the First Qualifying Round Vikingur surprisingly eliminated FC Inter Turku from Finland (a 1-1 draw at home and a 0-1 away win), so qualifying for the first time for the following Round, the Second one, in wich was defeated twice by the strong and emerging Romanian side FC Petrolul Ploiesti (0-3 and 0-4).
The win in Finland was the first ever in an UEFA Competition for Vikingur Gota, while GI Gota had played 22 European matches, winning one of them (in Intertoto Cup), drawing two (in UEFA Cup) and losing all the other ones.
This Season the draw has been quite good, because Vikingur Gota, as unseeded, got FK Daugava from Daugavpils, Latvia, not one of the strongest seeded teams: the Faroese Club won 2-1 at home in the First Leg played at Svangaskarð (a stadium based in Toftir, another town in the Island of Eysturoy where Faroese NT was used to play before the new Torsvollur was built), but in the Second one in Latvia was 1-0 down and was virtually out on away goals, until Andreas Olsen equalized at 88’ and gave the qualification to the Nordic side.
Anyway both of the matches didn’t get much attention among local comunities, because they were attended by and aggregate attendance of 542, the lowest in the Round.
The trip to Riga has been quite long and probably very expensive: Vikingur Gota had to organize their trip considering flight schedules and had to book four flights because the Torshavn airport, the only one in Faroe Islands, is linked mainly with Denmark, so they had to fly to Copenhaghen on Monday evening, spent a night there and on Tuesday they reached Riga, on Thursday played their match in Jurmala (Daugavplis stadium wasn’t big enough), on Friday morning flew back to Copenhagen and on the evening took a plane to come to Faroe Islands, but when they were close at home, they couldn’t land on Torshavn because of the fog, so they had to come back to the Danish Capital and to spend another night there, while on Sathurday afternoon finally managed to come back home: it took them five days to play an away match, a lot of time, considering that usually in the rest of Europe two days are enough.
The trip was taken by 40/50 people, including players, coaching staff, directors and maybe few girlfriends/wifes: the president Brandur Jacobsen didn’t want to reveal how much this away game was, but we suppouse that Vikingur didn’t save much money from €120.000 that every team involved in every Qualifying Round receives from UEFA both as a premium prize for participating and as a grant to cover their expenses.
The trip to Norway was easier, because Tromso is relatively close to Faroe Islands and because, for the first time time, Vikingur managed to charter a plane, filling the 100 seats thanks to supporters, players’ and staff’s relatives and families and local reporters, so the Club was followed away by more fans than other bigger teams.
If you were interested to know what happens during their away trips, you could visit their official Facebook page (Vikingur.fo), where they post A LOT of video and pictures, almost like a Big Brother.
The most famous player in the team managed by Sigfridur Clementsen is probably Súni Olsen (Faroese International, former PEC Zwolle, Aalborg BK and Viborg FF offensive midfielder/winger), while the other key element are probably the other Faroese Internationals: the Captain Atli Gregersen (central back), Erling Jacobsen (full-back), Sölvi Vatnhamar (midfielder), Hallur Hansson (22, former Aalborg BK devensive midfielder, he’s probably the most promising player in the team), Andreas Lava Olsen (winger/striker) and Finnur Justinussen (striker, he’s the top scorer of the team).
There are also two foreigners: the very experienced Hungarian Géza Tamás Turi (40, former FC Tatabánya GK, he has been in this team since 2006, when was part of GI Gota) and the Serbian defender Filip Djordjevic (midfielder).