Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bad Santa - amateur hour in Kakkonen

On the day the Guardian published an in-depth interview with Hercules coach Daniel Amokachi, the Northern/Western group of the Finnish third tier provided two matches which proved how much work is needed to raise basic standards further down the pyramid.

Amokachi raised a salient point about the availability of his players: "We started the season really well but then you find things that you only see in Finland – players missing games because they’ve already booked holidays, their friend is getting married, things like that. You can’t protest because you’re not really paying them. The professionalism angle is difficult. For them, football is just about getting together with friends and having fun but that’s not what our vision is all about, we want to take them to a different level and we’ve lost some who aren’t used to that kind of push."

On Sunday, two of the sides struggling at the foot of group C were in action away from home and completely proved Daniel's point.

Virkiä, from Lapua, have been in the relegation places all season - yet met notoriety a couple of months ago by beating Hercules 4-1, a shambolic display which raised all sorts of alarms regarding match fixing. In their penultimate fixture, they made the trip to Pori to play MuSa, challenging for promotion. In any case it'd be an uphill struggle - but they only arrived with ten players. They kicked off and gamely lasted the full ninety minutes. Alas it was all for not, with the final score of 8-0. Matters not helped with the second MuSa goal being scored from this corner. Or MuSa announcing their opponents fielding ten men with a tweet including #facepalm.

This wasn't the most outlandish football news from Kakkonen group C. That came further north in Kajaani, where AC Kajaani hosted "banter's" FC Santa Claus of Lapland. Santa again have struggled this season, while the hosts still had an outside chance of promotion via the play-offs. It's quite a long trip from Santa's grotto in Rovaniemi to Kajaani, over 300km. But Santa Claus decided to give some early presents to their opponents.

They arrived with eleven players. Not unheard of in the lower leagues in Finland. However... Three of the eleven were goalkeepers! So when the game kicked off, Juhani Kangas lined up in goal, with his fellow keepers Harri Nykänen and Juho Saukko playing outfield. Despite fielding three goalkeepers, Santa were 6-0 down at half-time, the final score a humbling 16-0. Michael Ibiyomi bagged a double hat-trick, Alberto Ramirez scored three, as did substitute Rundell Winchester.

Ibiyomi celebrates his sixth goal of the game

Strangely, the previous fixture between the two sides in July ended 0-9 to Kajaani. Clearly they haven't been very good little boys.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Matsipäivä - a Finnish football photo book

Nine Finnish football photographers have joined forces to compile and showcase their most beautiful and interesting photographs. Matsipäivä (the Finnish word for "matchday") is a confession of love for Finnish football.

Football is the most beautiful sport. A photograph can capture the endless layers, to tell you all about a single moment, a single player, one team or the nature of the entire event. It can act as an interpreter of emotions when catastrophe strikes, and at the time of redemption, as evidence of an immortal genius hero moment or a villainous twist.

But how do you capture Finnish football? How to preserve the passion and longing? Matsipäivä presents images from lower leagues up to Veikkausliiga, as well as the Finland national team in one volume.

The book will present the photographs of Mari Hietala, Olli Jantunen, Niko Karumaa, Teemu Kvist, Riku Laukkanen, Petteri Lehtonen, Matti Savolainen, Jaakko Stenroos and Joppe Survonen.

The project is being crowdfunded, with some good benefits for donors. If the project is funded, contributions can be rewarded with copies of the book, along with poster sized prints of a selection of the photographs included in the books. 

You can contribute to Matsipäivä by clicking on this link -

The group can also be reached on the usual social media channels:
Twitter - @matsipaiva
Instagram - @matsipaiva