Showing posts with label Belarus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Belarus. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Finland v Belarus, World Cup qualifying squads

Finland continue their qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup with a double header against Belarus in June. The first match is on the 7th at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki, with the second match four days later in Gomel.

Finland's record so far is a narrow defeat at home to France, a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Georgia, and the 'Miracle of Gijon', a 1-1 draw in Spain.

Villa thwarted again

While the chances of qualifying are extremely slim, all points are crucial if Finland are to improve their seeding before the draw is made for Euro 2016. As of April, Finland would still be highly likely to be in pot 4 for the qualification groups.

Belarus warmed up for the matches with a 0-2 win over Estonia on Monday night.

The Finland squad is:

Goalkeepers: Niki Mäenpää (VVV Venlo), Lukas Hradecky (Esbjerg fB), Henri Sillanpää (VPS)

Defenders: Niklas Moisander (Ajax), Jukka Raitala (Heerenveen), Markus Halsti (Malmö FF) , Petri Pasanen (AGF Århus), Jarkko Hurme (TPS), Mikko Sumusalo (HJK), Niklas Moisander - banned for the first match (Ajax), Paulus Arajuuri (Kalmar FF), Jukka Raitala (SC Heerenveen), Kari Arkivuo (BK Häcken)

Midfielders: Tim Sparv (Greuther Fürth), Alexander Ring (HJK, on loan at Borussia Mönchengladbach), Roman Eremenko (Rubin Kazan), Perparim Hetemaj (Chievo Verona), Kasper Hämäläinen (Lech Poznan), Erfan Zeneli, Teemu Tainio, Sebastian Mannström (all HJK), Mika Ojala (BK Häcken)

Forwards: Teemu Pukki (Schalke 04), Mikael Forssell (HJK), Timo Furuholm (Hallescher FC)

The Belarus squad is:

Goalkeepers: Sergei Veremko (Samara), Alyaksandr Hutar (Dynamo Minsk), Sergei Chernik (Neman Grodno)

Defenders: Oleg Veretilo, Vitay Trubilo  (both Dynamo Minsk), Igor Shitov (Saransk), Alexander Martynovich (FC Krasnodar), Yegor Filipenko, Maxim Bordachev (both BATE Borisov), Dmitry Verkhovtsov (Samara)
Midfielders: Stanislav Dragun (Samara), Sergei Kislyak (Rubin Kazan), Yan Tigorev (Lokomotiv Moscow), Alexander Pavlov, Edgar Olekhnovich, Alexander Hleb, Pavel Nekhaichik (BATE Borisov), Anton Putilo (Volga Nizhny Novgorod), Pavel Sitko (Shakhter Soligorsk), Timofei Kalachev (Rostov)
Forwards: Renan Bressan (Alania Vladikavkaz), Vitaly Rodionov (BATE Borisov), Maxim Skavysh (Baltika Kaliningrad)

Former Gunner Hleb in action on Monday

I'll be attending the tie in Helsinki, hoping to see Finland's first win in the group. I'll be in Kuopio during the away tie, so if anyone can recommend a decent pub to watch it in, let me know...

Friday, September 07, 2012

World Cup qualifying - group I for impossble?

So it begins again. Just two months after the end of a surprisingly good Euro 2012, qualifying begins for the 2014 World Cup, to be held in Brazil. This time there are nine European groups competing for those spots in the Finals, and of the fifty-three teams involved, perhaps half will have a reasonable shout of getting there. Finland is not in that half.

The Finns are in Group I, with World and European champions Spain, recent World and European champions France, and Belarus and Georgia. A five team group has it's pros and cons, but for a team which has just dropped twenty-four places in the FIFA rankings, the lack of playing two extra competitive games could prove dangerous in the long run. Coach Mixu Paatelainen has stated his goal is to produce a team which can potentially qualify for the bloated Euro 2016, but they'll do well to rack up more than a handful of points this time around.

 Paatelainen knows the size of the task

Finland's last match was an entertaining 3-3 draw with Northern Ireland in Belfast, and it wasn't fun for those fans of quality football, save for the third Finnish goal (a lovely free kick from Përparim Hetemaj). Their first qualifier is at home to a France side yet again dealing with the fall-out after a Euro 2012 which promised much, but ended up with the same in-fighting, strops and player bans.

 The Finns celebrate the third goal in Belfast

With no minnow (or is it Finland?) in the group, points against rivals are crucial, and under new manager Didier Deschamps, now may be a good time to take on the French. France lost their first qualifier for Euro 2012 at home to Belarus, while in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup they lost to Austria, and only just beat the Faroe Islands.

There have been several suggestions in recent years in support of a pre-qualifying competition amongst the lower-ranked nations, where the winners get the chance to compete with the larger nations. Clearly this was aimed to reduce the games between, for example, Spain and San Marino, but how else for the lower ranked teams to meet these opponents?

The French visit Helsinki this evening (Spain visit in September 2013), and while the odds on an upset are slim, Finland need to play the big teams in competitive games to realistically improve their FIFA rankings, especially after the Baltic Cup debacle (the summer matches against Latvia and Estonia were deemed not to count towards rankings as the fourth official was not FIFA accredited).

 Try telling Latvia that the Baltic Cup doesn't count...

The formula for working out ranking points is based as follows:

M (match result, W/L/D) x I (importance of match, eg friendly or qualifier) x T (ranking of opposing team, worked out as 200 minus their current position) x C (their confederation, eg UEFA).

A victory over France tonight would therefore be worth 3 x 2.5 x 185 x 1 = 1387.5, compared to the 99 points they earned for the draw with Northern Ireland. Results like this will be vital if they're to get decent seedings for future tournaments. Their 2012 point average is currently 125, yet the soon to disappear 2008 average is 228 so they're likely to drop much further if they get a bad start in this campaign.

The Finnish fans I speak to will be watching the France game with hope rather than expectation, and even a point will be a good start (worth 387.5 ranking points). But the group is a marathon not a sprint, and we'll see how a competitive Paatelainen side fares.