End of Season: Finland – 2013 Veikkausliiga
Champions League: HJK (Champion)
Europa League: FC Honka, VPS, RoPS (Cup Winner)
Relegated to Ykkönen: JJK
1. Tim Väyrynen – FC Honka - 17 goals (24 matches)
2. Rafael (BRA) – FC Lahti - 16 (28)
3. Mikael Forssell – HJK - 14 (28)
4. Pekka Shivola - MYPA – 12 (33)
4. Ilja Venäläinen – KuPS – 12 (31)
6. Demba Savage – HJK – 11 (29)
6.Erfan Zeneli – HJK – 11 (32)
This Season HJK confirmed itseld as the most successful club in Finnish football, after winning its 26th Finnish Championship (now Veikkausliiga for sponsorship reasons), the fifth in a row, but this thime the leadership hasn’t been uncontested, as the table could suggest, because FC Honka made HJK sweating at least until their last direct confrontation, in the middle of August, when HJK defeated at home FC Honka 4-2 in front of 10.000 people, that is a rare attendance for Veikkausliiga. After this game, FC Honka gave up and ended second 12 points far from the top. There are few similarities between Finnish and Icelandic Championships, both of them have been won by a club from the Capital, by the most successful club in the Country,
that won its 26th title.
VPS from Vaasa secured the third place and the last Europa League spot, winning on the last matchday a very tight race involving also IFK Mariehamn, FC Lahti and MYPA.
Looking at the bottom of the table, JJK, from Jyväskylä, and FC Lahti battled to avoid relegation until half of the Season, when FC Lahti changed its manager and started an unbelievable comeback and almost obtained a place in the next Europa League, leaving JJK the unpleasant place for 2014 Ykkönen. Now I have a question: Was previous FC Lahti manager, Mr. Kautonen, awful, or is the new one, Mr. Malinen, a genius ?
Seinäjoen JK from Seinäjoki gained the promotion from Ykkönen to Veikkausliiga, thanks to a great first and last part of the Season.
The Suomen Cup flied to Lapland, because RoPS from Rovaniemi, defeated 2-1 KuPS from Kuopio in the Final played in Helsinki and got the trophy and an Europa League place. About 2.000 people followed RoPS from the Rovaniemi to Helsinki, not bad, considering that the distance between these cities is about 700 km. This is the second triumph in this competition for RoPS, involved in a match fixing scandal few years ago, after the one in 1986, that gave them the right to partecipate to the following Cup Winners’ Cup, where they overcomed two Rounds, before being stopped by Olimpique de Marseille at the Quarter Finals. While who is writing this post was looking for interesting videos and pictures about the Suomen Cup on RoPS official Facebook page, he noticed that sometimes footballers are used to write on the page of their club directly from their personal profiles.
FC Lahti won the League Cup, basically a pre-season tournament, played mostly indoor, that give no access to European competition.
This Season European campaign for Finnish teams has been very disappointing, because all the 5 teams involved lost at their first match and sometimes against very beatable opponents (JK Nõmme Kalju from Estonia for HJK in CL, Jeneusse Esch from Luxembourg for TPS, Vikingur from Faroe Islands for Inter Turku, and Inter Baku for IFK Marienhamn), only FC Honka was defeated with dignity by the strong Lech Poznan from Poland.
RoPS – KuPS 2-1, Suomen Cup Final:
The average attendance for an “average” team usually is 1.500/2.000 per game, HJK, can have about 4.000 specator regularly and 6/7.000 for the biggest matches (10.000 for the decisive match against FC Honka),while around 5/6.000 fans usually go to the stadium to see the Derby of Turku between Inter and TPS.
You can consider by yourselves if these are good numbers or not, considering that Finland has about 5.000.000 inhabitants and football is the second most popular team sport after Ice Hockey.
Moreover in August Arsenal and Manchester City played a preseason match at a sold out Olympic Stadium (40.600 seats) in Helsinki, and that shows that football is quite popular in Finland as well, maybe Finnish people could support local teams a bit more than the English ones, so that their teams could become bigger and much more competitive.
Anyway a bigger support for foreign, mostly English, teams than for the local ones is a worldwide trend, not only in Finland. THIS IS THE FOOTBALL WE don’t LIKE.
HJK – FC Honka 4-2:
The most famous footballers playing in Veikkausliiga are maybe five: three, Mikael Forssell (32, former striker of Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Borussia Monchengladbach, Birmingham City, Hannover 96 and Leeds United, 26 goals on 81 app. for Finland), Teemu Tainio (33, former midfielder of Auxerre, Tottenham Hotspur, Sunderland, Birmingham City, Ajax and New York Red Bulls) and Mika Väyrynen (31, former midfielder of Heerenveen, PSV and Leeds United, ,just 3 appeareances this season because of serious injuries), are playing for HJK, one, Abdolulaye Méïté (33, defender, six seasons at Olimpique de Marseille, then Bolton Wanderers, WBA and FCO Dijon, 48 app. for Ivory Coast), is playing for FC Honka, and one, Peter Enckelman (36, former GK of Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Cadiff City, St. Johnstone and Heart of Midlothian) play for IFK Mariehamn.
You could also have heard about Roni Porokara (29, FC Honka’s winger, a Finnish International who had played in Sverige, Belgium and Israel), about Spansh globetrotter Rubén Palazuelos (30, FC Honka, former midfielder of Aris Salonnicco, Heart of Midlothian and Botev Plovdiv), about old Brazilian striker Rafael, (35, FC Lahti, few appeareances for Heerenveen), about Anglo-Nigerian Tomi Ameobi (24, striker of VPS, brother of Shola e Sammy, who playing for Newcastle United) and about Guy Gnabouyou (23, striker of Inter Turku, he was formed at Olimpique Marsille, with whom he played very few matches for the first team).
Almost all the current Finnish Internationals playing in Veikkausliiga can be found in HJK, Tapio Heikkila, Sebastian Sorsa, Mikko Sumusalo, Sebastian Mannstrom, Rasmus Schuller, Erfan Zeneli, Sakari Mattila, who can be added to the three aforementioned: the exceptions are the experienced GK Henri Sillanpää (VPS), and defenders Tuomas Rannankari (KuPS) and Jarkko Hurme (TPS).
In the next future for sure you’ll hear about Tim Väyrynen, 20, FC Honka, top scorer of Veikkausliiga, who has been playing and scoring in the first team for three years, and his goal scoring average has always been quite high, while the other “golden boy” of Finnish football, Joel Pohjanpalo, 19, in August has been sold by HJK to Bayer Leverkusen, that later loaned him to 2.Bundesliga.
In Finnish Under 21 National Team you should take a note about midfielders Moshtagh Yaghoubi (18, FC Honka, born in Afghanistan), Robin Lod (20, HJK) and Kastriot Kastrati (20, FC Honka, he has Albanian origin), who is a more offensive one.
In Veikkausliiga there’s also an interesting trio of Gambian Internationals, Demba Savage (24, HJK winger), Omar Colley (20, KuPS defender) and Dawda Bah (28, KuPS offensive midfielder), and a pair of Neozelandese Internationals , Chris James (25, KuPS midfielder) and, most of all, Kris Bright (26, IFK Marienhamn striker), who we could see playing at the next World Cup in Brazil if Kiwis beat Mexico in the Intercontinental Playoff.
Foreign players are from all over the world. The Nigerian community is the biggest one with 8 players, followed by the American one with 7, while Swedes are 6, Jamaicans are 5. and Slovenians are 4.
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