July 23, 2009: European Cup Preview

The draw for the two European Cup tournaments was held yesterday and both EB/Streymur and HB Tórshavn will face Cypriot opposition while NSÍ Runavík face Norwegian side Rosenborg, a regular in the champions league group-stage. And as usual there is also an opponent waiting in Georgia whom B36 Tórshavn will have the honour of meeting.

Champions League
EB/Streymur vs. Apoel Nicosia (Cyprus)

In recent years, the Faroese champions have been placed in the Champions League first qualifying round, but as the format has changed slightly, EB/Streymur’s campaign starts at the second qualifying stage this time. Their opponents are the champions of Cyprus, Apoel Nicosia.

Apoel are not a complete stranger to Faroese football as they played against B71 Sandoy in the UEFA Cup in the 1996/97season. Apoel won 5-1 in the Farroes (Eli Hentze made it 1-3 with a penalty). In the second leg in Cyprus B71 actually took a 2-1 lead with goals from Eli Hentze and Páll á Reynatúgvu, but in the end B71 lost 4-2.

The following year HB Tórshavn met Apoel in the UEFA Cup Winners Cup. HB managed a 1-1 draw at home (in Svangaskarð, Toftir). HB’s equalizer was scored by Uni Arge. An upbeat HB team then travelled to Cyprus but returned dejected with a 6-0 defeat in the bag. Extreme heat in Cyprus was given the blame.

Also B68 Toftir have faced Cypriot opposition, but that was in the Intertoto Cup where B68 met Apollon Limassol. In the one leg match in Cypros, B68 lost 4-1. B68´s goal was scored by Súni Fríði Johannesen (now Barbá).

With Cypriot side Anorthosis Famagusta’s endeavour in the champions league last season in mind, where they qualified for the group stages and were just a whisker away from advancing to the knock out stages, EB/Streymur will be facing a very difficult task. Chances of advancement for EB/Streymur must be considered extremely slim.

The first leg will be played in the Faroe Islands, on Tórsvøllur Stadium in Tórshavn on 15 July while the second leg will take place in Cyprus 22 July.

Three Faroese clubs compete in the new Europa League. HB Tórshavn qualified as runners up while B36 Tórshavn qualified as losing cup finalists (as EB/streymur won the double, B36 is representing the Cup winners) NSÍ Runavík qualified with their 4th spot in the league last season, instead of B36 Tórhavn who were no. 3, as B36 as mentioned took the cup winners spot.

Europa League
HB Tórshavn vs. AC Omonia (Cyprus)

Like EB/Streymur, also HB Tórshavn were drawn against Cypriot opposition, namely AC Omonia Nicosia. Like HB, AC Omonia were runners up last season. With 19 titles under their belt, AC Omonia is a Cypriot giant – just one title short of Apoel Limasol with 20 titles. However, it’s a while since Omonia’s last title now as it was won in 2003.

HB play their first match away in Cyprus on 16 July and the home leg on Gundadalur´s artificial pitch on 23 July. Also this match is in the 2nd qualifying round.

- Hopefully, the tie isn’t already over after the first leg, but with HB´s defensive qualities in mind, that is not an unlikely scenario.

Europa League
B36 Tórshavn vs. FC Olimpi Rustavi (Georgia)

One of the most feared countries for Faroese clubs to visit is Georgia as it usually goes terribly wrong there. Having said that, two of the best Faroese results have also come against exactly Georgian opposition. In the 2004/05 season, HB Tórshavn beat the Georgian champions WIT Georgia Tbilisi 3-0 at home in the 1st qualifying round of the champions league, but unfortunately the damage had already been done in the away leg where HB had lost 5-0!

Last year, NSÍ Runavík beat Georgian champions Dinamo Tbilisi 1-0 at home in the 1st qualifying round of the champions league, but same story there: the damage had been done in the away leg where NSÍ had lost 3-0.

HB were also in Georgia in the 1996/97 season where they suffered a 6-0 defeat to Dinamo Batumi in the Cup Winners Cup. At home HB lost 3-0.

But also B36 has Georgian experience as they faced Torpedo Kutaisi in the champions league qualifying stage in the 2002/2003 season. As usual the away leg was particularly difficult and B36 lost 5-2. Magni á Lakjuni and Bárður Mortansson scored the goals for B36 in the second half. In the home leg B36 managed to minimize the defeat to 0-1.

B36’s opponents this time are FC Olimpi Rustavi. The club is brand new and was founded the day before the start of the 2006/2007 season. But that didn´t stop them from winning the title in their first season. Olimpi Rustavi was a result of a merger between FC Tblisi and second division club FC Rustavi. In the recently ended season, FC Olimpi Sustavi’s became third – just as B36 in the Faroese League.

With the usual problems in Georgia and with B36’s current form – which is terrible – it could possibly get very ugly for B36 this time around. The match is in the first qualifying round of the Europa League.

Europa League
NSÍ Runavík vs. Rosenborg BK (Norway)

NSÍ Runavík will be playing against Norvegian giant Rosenborg BK who has dominated Norwegian football since the early nineties. From 1992 to 2004, Rosenborg won the Norwegian title 13 times in succession. In total, Rosenborg have won 20 league titles.

However, since Rosenborg’s 13th title in a row in 2004, they haven’t had quite the same success as earlier, although they did pick up another Norwegian title in 2006, but in 2005 they ended the season in 8th place and in 2007 and 2008 they ended in 5th place.

That 5th place wasn’t enough to qualify them for Europe actually, but Rosenborg was given a wild card spot because Norway won the international Fair Play competition.

But Roesenborg seems to be back at the top of Norwegian football however, as they are leading the domestic league by a healthy 7-point margin halfway through the season.

Faroese clubs have tried their luck against Norwegian clubs on 5 occasions and so far not a single point has been picked up.

NSÍ have some experience against Norwegian clubs as they faced Oslo-based club Lyn in the UEFA Cup in the 2003/2004 season.

NSÍ lost 3-1 at home were it was Jústinus Hansen who scored NSÍ’s goal towards the end of the match. The away match was a bit tougher and NSÍ lost 6-0. Remarkably, all 6 goals were scored by the same player, Zdobył Hadzimehmedović.

HB Tórshavn were the first club to try their luck against a Norwegian club when they met Tromsø IL on away soil in the one-legged Intertoto cup in 1995. HB failed miserably and were downed 10-0!

B36 tried their luck in the same tournament in 1995 against Stabæk and lost 5-0 away from home in the one-legged match.

In the 2003/2004 UEFA Cup, KÍ Klaksvík were beaten 2-0 at home by Molde and 4-0 in the away leg.

In the 2006/2007 season Skála met Start Kristiansand - who had Faroese Todi Jónsson in their team - in the UEFA cup and managed a respectable 0-1 defeat at home and then lost the return leg 3-0.

Last season, the Faroese clubs collected 4 points in total in the different European cups, but it’s difficult to see where the points should come from this season. It might be a not so funny European season for the Faroese clubs this time around. Hopefully they will belie this prediction, though!

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