Monday, January 25, 2016

New year, new content on ETS

Moving into 2016, ETS will be four years old in June. Co-incidentally, we're due to have our first child in May (we know it's a girl, so of course eligible for Finland's women teams). Time is already at something of a premium, but luckily it looks like there'll be some different sources of content in the coming months.

As you may have followed, I've hosted a couple of guest writers and their content. From the tales of people's travels after reading the site, to interviews and previews, it's all here. As such, I'm opening the floor to all of you. If you've got an idea, a set of photos, a story or a interview that you'd like to share, please do. The contact tab at the top is the best way to get in touch.

Secondly, you may start to see articles which originally appeared on the Veikkausliiga's own website. The league marketing director Risto Oksanen has generously allowed me to share those stories (in English) on ETS. It'll be a select few pieces, around the more interesting happenings. Feel free to let me know your thoughts on frequency. I'm sure the Finns will be quick to jump on any errors in translation! Each article will link to the original as well.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Liigacup 2016 - from the players

It's been a while since the last guest post, and with perfect timing here is friend of the blog Henry Hakamäki and his discussions with some of the participants of the 2016 Liigacup. Henry has taken a lot of time to support ETS (and the Finnish Football Show) and has got some great responses from the players.

For the uninitiated, the Finnish League Cup is essentially an organised pre-season tournament between the twelve top division clubs. There is no Europa League place for the winner (although the finalists enter the Finnish cup later on), while previous results have been notoriously hard to call.

Akseli Kalermo (RoPS): I think the Liigacup is a good way to start the season and it's important for our team to develop our game before the league starts. For me, these matches are very important because I'm fighting for a place in the starting eleven. I will be playing as a right-back so I want to learn when to join the attack and give crosses and when to stay back and focus on defending. I'm a player with good ability to run, so I want to help my team with my strengths like my speed and running. That’s what I want to improve the most I think, I need to learn to play to my strengths.

Jussi Vasara (SJK): This year the Liigacup is organized a little bit differently than previously, so its interesting to see how it goes. It is my first time to play against newly-promoted PS Kemi (in the first match). I think it is good chance to see their team before the Veikkausliiga season. We have few new players and assistant coach (Brian Page). The Liigacup is a very good place to unite new and the old players. Of course, we look for the win, but its never easy. If we are successful, it is going to be a good boost for our confidence. Lots of good games coming.

Lauri Ala-Myllymäki (Ilves):  I think it's a good way to get the season started. Of course we want to do as well as we can!  For me, I’m looking for overall improvement, I can’t say anything specific.

Marco Matrone (Ilves): The Liigacup is a very important competition for us, especially to improve our game. We have a new coach and a few new players, including me, so it’s important to learn how to play together as a team. Our new coach also wants us to play a little differently than last year, so our main target in the Liigacup is to improve our game. Results are also important, but not the main thing. Liigacup is kind more of training competitions for many clubs.

Petteri Pennanen (KuPS): For me, it's perfect to make a comeback in the Liigacup after a long injury, so mainly I just wait to play games again and the Liigacup gives a good chance to do it before the league will start. The Liigacup is important for the team to play tough games before the league, but everybody knows that it's during a preseason so it's more important to develop our game than the results this time of the year. But anyway, when we go onto the field we always play to win so of course we want to do well in the Liigacup.  For me, it’s important to get back into match form after my injury, and then take everything step-by-step from there.

Petteri Pennanen

Thomas Mäkinen (IFK Mariehamn): It feels good that the cup is starting again. It's always nice to be playing games, and I look forward to playing in hard games. I want to improve many things, such as my strength and passing. From the team’s point of view, we have a good feeling because we have almost the same team as last year, so we know each other very well and look forward to getting started.

Wayne Brown (SJK): Yes, the pre-season is a very busy time for us, we have a lot of games with the Liigacup and also friendlies in Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Norway and Spain. This early on into the season we are trying to improve our fitness and match sharpness. It's been three months since our last game, so this can take some time.  Also, we have new players so it's about everyone getting used to each other. Another thing we will be working on is team bonding. This is vital for a team both on and off the pitch. We are looking forward to the Liigacup, and winning it will be our target. 

Wayne Brown

Samu Volotinen (PK-35): Well of course the Liigacup is preparation for the Veikkausliiga season, but I am always looking to win every game, and I think there will be high quality games in the cup. During the cup I look to perform well with consistent results and to grow as a player. For the team, the cup is preparation for the Veikkausliiga season.

Johannes Laaksonen (SJK): As a team, we want to win every game, every competition, so the Liigacup is one of them.  Success in it takes you straight in the qualifiers in Finnish Cup!  It starts early in the preseason, so it’s a good chance for improve your team’s game.  You can also test players in these games, so for the coach these games can make his decisions easier. Almost every team has changed from last season and teams aren’t 100% fit so it’s important to get small details right for the new players, and get your match fitness before the season starts. Also, personally, doing well in the Liigacup is important to get your self confidence high before the first "real game".

Elias Ahde (SJK): I think that the Liigacup is a good thing that the team can use to focus. Also, it gives some experience in playing and not only pre-season-ing. I will try to improve my goalscoring skills and playing with this team. I think we are a strong team for this competition.

Ilmari Niskanen (KuPS): It is nice to have tough games already at this time of the year during the pre-season. I'm really looking forward to Liigacup because I have missed two earlier Liigacups because of injuries, but now I'm fit and ready to play. I hope that I can play well and get in good form before the Veikkausliiga season. As a team, we will test new players during the Liigacup and improve our game and of course, win games!

Otto-Pekka Jurvainen (HIFK): It's nice that the games are about to start and the team is really looking forward to it. Liigacup games are important preparation for upcoming league games. It is important to get games where there are some points at stake, competitive games. The most important thing for the team is to start to learn new and old things that we want to do inside games and build up our team game comprehensively, but also get used to the game tempo again and get familiar with new guys in the team.

Walter Viitala (IFK Mariehamn): The Liigacup is a great way to train our team structure, and for a goalie it’s important to play as much as possible with the defending line. Everyone in the team is looking forward to really starting the season and play meaningful games.

Walter Viitala

Mikko Kuningas (FC Lahti): It is great to play against other Veikkausliiga teams because now we can play quality games straight from the start of the pre-season. These games are good for our team. Now we are able to try some different tactics and we can create our own style of playing before the Veikkausliiga season starts. I think the results are not the most important things right now, but of course it is more fun to win than lose.

Saku Eriksson (HIFK): I think the idea of the cup is good and beneficial, offering clubs competitive games early on, but still giving the chance to test some things out. I'll just try to get into my game after a long break and get myself a good pre-season. Our team is eager to win anything, and everyone is hungry to show what they go for!


My thanks again to Henry for getting such a wide range of responses and insight into the players thoughts. The Liigacup kicks off on Friday 22nd January, the games are available to watch on ISTV.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Finnish Football Show episode 3

This Wednesday, January 20th, we will record episode 3 of the Finnish Football Show. As before, it will be recorded on Blab, which is a live video platform with a forum for questions. Our podcast wizard Mark will then do his bits with it and release it for listening soon after.

Episode three will cover two themes - the Finland national team's new era (after the friendly defeats to Iceland and Sweden) and also the transfers involving Finns and Finnish clubs.

Please join us on the link below at 7pm GMT (9pm Finland) on Wednesday.

Link to #FFS3

If you'd like to follow my co-hosts, Mark Wiltshear is the host of the Explore Finland radio show, while Mark Hayton writes for FC Suomi, about the Finnish national team.

As before, I'm running a poll to decide what football shirt I'll wear during the recording... Join in!