Showing posts with label Annika Kukkonen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Annika Kukkonen. Show all posts

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tulos: Pukki, season tickets and Britpop

Another slow fortnight or so since the last Tulos. Here's a quick summary for those of you who have been away...

A superb offer for fans of teams in the western division of the Kakkonen in 2015. Season ticket holders at either of the three clubs in the post are also able to attend the home games of the others, so over forty matches for the price of one season ticket, as little as 50 Euros in some cases.

Teemu Pukki knows how to time things - 48 hours before the announcement of the next Finland squad (for the Northern Ireland game), he scores for Brøndby in their 2-0 win over OB.

With more speculation in England about the introduction of academy teams into professional leagues, I wrote for Put Niels In Goal about how the teams fare in Finland, featuring the Suomen Cup ties between teams from the same club... Featuring the joint team huddle of HIFK/3 and HIFK/4 (below).

Finland's FIFA ranking continues to drop, now just five places above their previous worst of September 2012.

The latest ETS interview was with Finland ladies midfielder Annika Kukkonen, who gave some excellent answers relating to gay players, sexism in the sport, and Gangnam Style...

The latest draw for the Suomen Cup was made on Monday by Jari Litmanen - he should be made to make every draw, he pulled out some absolute stunners. TPS v Inter and JanPa/Atletico Malmi v FC Lahti are particular highlights. One big shock result of round four was KPV defeating top division side Jaro 3-0.

Fifth round draw - looking forward to it already

Last update is a bit of an ego boost - I'm very honoured to have been included in a list of the top football blogs to follow in 2015, by Left-Wing Soccer. There are some wonderful writers on there, and they're all well worth a few minutes of your time.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Interview with Finland midfielder Annika Kukkonen

The latest interview on ETS is with Finland women’s national team midfielder Annika Kukkonen, who has just returned from international duty at the Cyprus Cup. Many thanks to Annika for her candid answers, and all the best for the upcoming season in Sweden with her new club Sunnanå.

You've made over 50 appearances for Finland at such a young age - was it always your ambition to play for the national team?
61 is the number right now and its 61 more than I thought it would be at the beginning of my career. I'm really proud of that number, along with the decision I made at an early age that I wanted to come a professional player.

There has been a lot of attention on the Women's World Cup this year being played on artificial pitches – do you think it will affect the quality of the matches?
That's really hard question. I love natural grass when it's in a good shape, but I really like playing on artificial grass too and we do it lot in Sweden and Finland, so I'm kind of used to it. I don't think it affects the quality of the game in terms of passing and moving with the ball, but it can make a difference in a physical way, there are fewer sliding tackles made on artificial pitches, with good reason. It's a pain when the skin cuts on those pitches, that's the main reason why I prefer natural grass.

What was it like to play in the Euro 2013 tournament? The average attendances were the biggest ever, did it make you hungrier to play in more competitions?

It was a great experience, even though we were really disappointed with game performances. We had the honour to play against Sweden in their home stadium in front of all their fans. The fans always give the extra feeling for the games and of course it makes us hungry to play in more big games.

What advice would you give to youngsters about becoming a professional? Is there anything that you'd do differently?

Have fun! It's really important to enjoy playing football! Listen the advice you will get but always make your own decisions. You are the one who's responsible for your choices and also later on your career. I'm happy with the choices I've made.

Sepp Blatter once suggested that female players should wear tighter shorts to increase the popularity of women's football, while in a Cyprus Cup match, some comments were made at Australian players. Have you ever experienced such prejudice?
I played with boys when I was younger so there was a lot of talk about girls playing football - not in my team but more from the opponents, so I am used to the sexist trash talk, so now when I hear comments like that I'm pretty good at ignoring them.

Annika (right) taking on France in the recent Cyprus Cup

Tinja-Riikka (Korpela, Finland and Bayern Munich goalkeeper) gave an interview recently where she talked about the challenges of being openly gay in football, praising the support of her teammates after coming out. Do you feel that women's football is more accepting than the men's game?
Definitely! There are many more openly gay people in women's football than in the men's game. The general environment is that you are good as you are and no-one has to fit in with the same stereotypes.

Are there any leagues that you'd love to play in, other than Finland and Sweden?
Right now I'm happy and satisfied in Sweden - I haven't got any thoughts about play in any other leagues. At Sunnanå SK, I want to get my ankle injury sorted, then I will start to think about the next goals.

Did you join in the Gangnam Style dance-off at the Cyprus Cup players evening?
Haha that was awesome! I would like to be as good a dancer as that player was!!


Thanks again Annika. More interviews are in the works, keep watching this space. If you have any suggestions, feel free to drop me a line.