Showing posts with label Sweden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sweden. Show all posts

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Finland lose King's Cup final

After the promising performance against Thailand on Wednesday, Finland were brought back down to Earth on Saturday in a 3-0 defeat to Sweden in the King's Cup final.

A Saturday morning meeting in a warm stadium, with perhaps not first choice squads, was always going to be a strange environment for the Nordic sides, especially with a trophy up for grabs.

Sweden celebrate

Goals from former Sunderland striker Tobias Hysén, young midfielder Robin Quaison and one-time Southampton midfielder Anders Svensson won Sweden the competition.

Anders Svensson with the 2013 King's Cup

Of note for fans of the quirky, Sweden also retained the Unofficial World Championship title which they won after beating North Korea in the first match. They will defend the title against Argentina next month, while Finland will face Israel.

Highlights of Finland 0-3 Sweden

The bronze medal match between North Korea and Thailand finished 2-2.

It appears that the matches within the competition were not designated 'A' internationals, so the results are unlikely to count towards FIFA rankings. Each country's current rankings are Sweden (19), Finland (84), North Korea (99) and Thailand (138).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The King's Cup 2013 preview

Hidden away in the football calendar, competing for attention with the African Cup Of Nations, the King's Cup returns this week in Thailand. Not usually seen as a hotbed of football, this long-running tournament returns for it's 42nd edition on Wednesday.

This year sees a similarly Nordic-Asian line-up as 2012, with Finland, Sweden and North Korea lining up against the hosts (2012 saw a Danish league XI, Norway and South Korea). The format has changed however - returning to the knockout format, away from last year's round robin. The opening match sees Sweden take on North Korea (kick off at 9am UK time), followed by Thailand against Finland (12 noon in the UK).

The tournament is held to honour his Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and will be held at the 700th Anniversary Stadium in Chiang Mai.

The 700th Anniversary Stadium, looks recently renovated

Finland have taken a squad of players mostly based in the Nordic leagues, making do with the fact that the tournament doesn't fall in the FIFA international calendar (however FIFA have ratified the fixtures). Some old faces return to the squad, including recent HJK additions Teemu Tainio and Mikael Forssell. Perhaps the biggest surprise yet was announced on Tuesday night, when coach Mixu Paatelainen revealed that young Fulham stopper Jesse Joronen would start against the hosts.

Mikael returns to the blue and white

Something for fans of the obscure - the opening match is also billed as a match for the Unofficial World Championship. The tournament originated from the first international football fixtures between England and Scotland back in 1872, and has been calculated all the way to the current day, where North Korea are the current holders. A win for Sweden would bring the title back to Europe, where it hasn't been held since Argentina beat Spain in 2010. By definition, if Finland were to win both of their matches, against Thailand and the winners of the other game, they would be (Unofficial) World Champions! Finland's last effort at the title was in 2008, where they lost 2-1 to Greece.

Hughie, the mascot for the UFWC

For more information on the UFWC, visit their website here.

Thailand's coach Winfried Schäfer certainly has a tournament pedigree, he won the Cup of Nations with Cameroon in 2002, and lost narrowly in the final of the Confederations Cup in 2003 (overshadowed by the death of Marc-Vivien Foe). Sweden are hamstrung by the same squad limitations as Finland, with only four players with more than ten caps, and missing Ibrahimovic. North Korea surprised some in the 2010 World Cup by giving Brazil a decent game, and won't be pushovers either.

 Thailand (in yellow) take on South Korea in 2012

This promises to be a pleasant break in the pre-season plans for Finland, and should give a different challenge for Mixu's players. He claims the advantage over Thailand on the basis of the larger players, but we'll see if size really matters...

Follow Finland's attempts to become World Champions with the Escape To Suomi Twitter site.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Could a Nordic hosted Euros work?

It could be said that UEFA are pioneers. Since the turn of the century, we've seen jointly hosted European Championships in 2000 (Holland/Belgium), 2008 (Austria/Switzerland) and now in Poland and Ukraine. There are strong noises towards a triple-hosted bid in 2020 between the Celtic nations of Wales, Ireland and Scotland. The question is, would there be enough infrastructure, stadia or interest in a competition hosted in any of the Nordic countries?

 All roads lead somewhere

Sweden hosted an eight team tournament in 1992, which was won by Denmark (enough has been said about how they got in at the last minute). But that only needed four grounds, which were in Gothenburg, Malmö, Stockholm and Norrköping. With 24 teams involved, at least nine stadiums will be needed, two with a capacity over 50,000 and the other with minimums of 30,000 and 40,000.

What grounds and nations could host? The likely parties would be a mixture of Sweden, Denmark, and Finland or Norway. Finland may jump at the chance to host, purely for the automatic qualification spot... But stadia?


The three larger venues for Euro 92 would certainly fit nicely before any improvements were to be made. Gothenburg's Ullevi stadium has a current capacity of around 43,000; Malmö 27,500 and Stockholm's Råsunda holds just over 35,000. The infrastructure is in place, and a long football legacy is in place. Would be probably the biggest of the group, and likely to host the final.


The Parken Stadium in Copenhagen has held UEFA finals as recently as 2000, and boasts a current capacity of nearly 40,000. Brondby stadium holds around 29,000. Would require at least one new or rebuilt ground to make it worthwhile. With recent Champions League participants as well has a former Euro winner, there would be no shortage of people queuing to get in.


The Olympic stadium in Helsinki would be a good fit for opening game or final, with a current capacity of over 40,000. It was renovated in the 1990s, and then again prior to the athletics World Championship in 2005, with further works to be carried out soon. At least one more new or renovated ground would be needed to host games, possibly in Espoo, Turku or Vantaa.

The region's football and fans could benefit greatly from some increased spending and exposure. New stadia, while perhaps unsuitable for some of the smaller clubs in the domestic leagues, could be aspirational, used for international friendlies, and hopefully not just more white elephants.

The recent world ice hockey championships allowed numerous games played at the same venues, to the point that only Helsinki and Stockholm were required. If anything, just the chances for the European camera operators to pan through to ladies in the crowd will be enough of a draw...

The chap at the back needed all the bodyguards