January 31, 2008: January Round-Up:

An action-packed round-up for you this time. So let's just cut to the chase:

Tórshavn's artificial grass
gets FIFA approval

Gundadalur Stadium, HB Tórshavn and B36 Tórshavn's home soil, can now host international matches as the so-called 4th generation artificial turf, which was laid out in the summer of 2007, has received a "FIFA 2 Star Recommendation". This means that no team can refuse to play on the surface!

However, this approval is valid for the turf itself only, and not other parts of the stadium, like the stands for example.

But HB and B36 have high hopes that their Intertoto and UEFA Cup matches this summer will be played on this surface, as this is the surface they're used to, compared to the natural grass which most Faroese players are uncomfortable with. HB will play their Intertoto matches 21/22 June and 28/29 June, while B36 play in the UEFA Cup 17 and 31 July.

If Gundadalur gets the green light for playing the European matches there, then EB/Streymur (cup winners) and NSÍ Runavík (champions) might also choose to play their matches there.

On the other hand, the national team will not be playing their 2010 world cup qualifying matches there, as the Faroese Soccer Association had already announced to FIFA that they would play their matches at Tórsvøllur and Svangaskarð, which both have natural grass. However, sometime in the near future, the national team will undoubtedly be playing their matches on artificial turf also. And really, this FIFA approval is what Faroese soccer has been waiting for since 1986, when the first artificial pitch was laid out in Gundadalur, Tórshavn.

Although the Faroe Islands senior national team will not play in Gundadalur for the time being, some of the national youth-teams might very well use this opportunity however.

In 1989 the Faroe Islands played their first FIFA registered international match on home soil on artificial turf against Canada (a friendly) in Gundadalur Stadium. The Faroes won 1-0! In another friendly in 1990 the Faroes were beaten 3-2 by Iceland with a late penalty on the same pitch, and in 1991, the Faroe Islands drew 1-1 with Turkey in another friendly in Gundadalur stadium. Clearly, Faroese players have always performed better on the artificial turf, and surely they're going to get better results again as they'll start playing on artificial grass again.

FIFA's approval of the pitch runs for 1 year at a time and must therefore be renewed every year. According to FIFA's website, the license was given on 8 November 2007 (although the Faroese soccer association claims the license is from mid January – however, there's probably no scandal there:-) and runs to 7 November 2008 when it must be renewed.

This also means that the artificial turf will have to be shifted every 3-5 years to ensure the right quality. This is a bit more frequent than for the previous surfaces of which the first lasted from 1986-1998, and the second from 1998-2007.

At the moment there are 70 FIFA 2 Star recommended pitches in Europe and 104 in total world wide.

Jens Martin Knudsen
assistant coach for the Faroe Islands

Bobble hat goalkeeper Jens Martin Knudsen has been named new assistant to national coach Jógvan Martin Olsen after the post became vacant when John Petersen stepped down from the post. Petersen could not continue on the post as he is preoccupied with his job as coach at Skála in the Formula Division.

Before Jens Martin Knudsen was named assistant coach, he was already goalkeeper coach for the national team, and that he will continue to be as well.

Súni Olsen joins Viborg FF

Súni Olsen, who has been with Danish Superliga club AaB Aalborg since the summer of 2005 has left to join Viborg FF, also in the Superliga. Olsen had been unhappy with his role in AaB were he got little time on the pitch and had put in a transfer request.

Formula Division 2008
provisional program

The start of the 2008 Formula Division league is fast approaching and a provisional program has been made. You can see the first 4 rounds below. But bear in mind, that this is a provisional program and could be altered!

29 Mar. 2008: B36 Tórshavn- ÍF Fuglafjørður
30 Mar. 2008: GÍ/LÍF - B68 Toftir
30 Mar. 2008: NSÍ Runavík - B71 Sandoy
30 Mar. 2008: EB/Streymur – KÍ Klaksvík
30 Mar. 2008: HB Tórshavn - Skála

06 Apr. 2008: B36 Tórshavn - GÍ/LÍF
06 Apr. 2008: KÍ Klaksvík – HB Tórshavn
06 Apr. 2008: B71 Sandoy - EB/Streymur
06 Apr. 2008: B68 Toftir – NSÍ Tórshavn
06 Apr. 2008: ÍF Fuglafjørður - Skála

13 Apr. 2008: GÍ/LÍF – ÍF Fuglafjørður
13 Apr. 2008: NSÍ Runavík - B36 Tórshavn
13 Apr. 2008: EB/Streymur - B68 Toftir
13 Apr. 2008: HB Tórshavn - B71 Sandoy
13 Apr. 2008: Skála – KÍ Klaksvík

26 Apr. 2008: ÍF Fuglafjørður – KÍ Klaksvík
27 Apr. 2008: B36 Tórshavn - EB/Streymur
27 Apr. 2008: GÍ/LÍF – NSÍ Runavík
27 Apr. 2008: B71 Sandoy - Skála
27 Apr. 2008: B68 Toftir – HB Tórshavn

Merged GÍ/LÍF announce
new name on 4 February

The new merged club of GÍ Gøta and LÍF Leirvík will announce their new name on a meeting on 4 January. They have also decided that their home matches in the Formula Division will be played in Sarpugerði in Gøta only, and that no matches will be played in Leirvík's ground.

Update, February 4th This evening it was decided that the new mame for the new merged club of GÍ/LÍF is Víkingur. Víkingur means Viking in English.

So now there are at least 3 "vikings" in the nordic leagues: Víkingur in the Faroes, another Víkingur in Iceland, and in Norway there is Viking Stavanger.

Club News, Transfers etc.

B36 Tórshavn:
B36 have signed two Hungarian offensive players, Karoly Potemkin og Tamas Nagy.

30 year-old Potemkin played the second half of last season with EB/Streymur when he was brought to the club as emergency replacement for injured forwards Arnbjørn Hansen and Sorin Anghel. He seemed to be a decent striker with the ability to be in the right place at the right time. For example he scored an acrobatic goal for EB/Streymur in the UEFA cup against Finnish side MyPa. He should be worth about 10 goals for B36 next season.

Midfielder (B36 label him as a forward, however) Tamas Nagy is also 30 and has played in the top division in Hungary. He has also played for Hungary's U21 national team.

B36 have also signed a contract with 21 year old former HB Tórshavn player, Svenn F. Jacobsen. Jacobsen was on loan to TB Tvøroyri in the 1st division in the 2nd half of the 2007 season, as he had difficulties getting into the starting position at HB. Jacobsen can play in both defense and central midfield. Main reasons for B36's interest in the player probably comes from the coach, Heðin Askham, who is also the Faroe Islands U21 coach where Jacobsen is also a player.

On the other hand it's a blow to B36 that left back Jóhan Gunnarson will probably move to Denmark to study, either early in the season or later into it.

B68 Toftir
B68 have a new goalkeeper for 2008 as they have signed a contract with Vlada Filipovic, who last season played for relegated VB/Sumba. But it definitely wasn't Filipovic's fault, as he was one of the very best goalkeepers last season. The Serbian shotstopper came to Skála in 2005 where he spent 2 seasons.

In 2006 B68 had a Dutchman called Ralp van Dooren in midfield and he will reportedly be back with B68 for 2008. The 26-year-old has previously been part of for Holland's U19 squad, where he was teammate with prominent names as Rafael van der Vaart, Arjen Robben and Klaas Huntelaar. But don't expect too many Dutch technical equilibristic tricks from van Dooren, as he was more known for his uncompromising tackles in midfield. For that he received 2 red cards in 2006 in addition to 12 yellow! And that's in a 27-match league… Even Vinnie Jones would shy away from a tackle here…

B68 have also announced that two players from Senegal will be coming on a trial in mid February. This in addition to two other Senegalese, who where on a trial last summer and who have been asked to come back.

B71 Sandoy
B71's already narrow squad got even narrower when they learned that Faroe U21 player Magnus Olsen wanted to leave B71 to join B36 Tórshavn. Supposedly, an agreement of some kind should have been made, but B71 dispute such a claim and insist they have the papers on the player for the 2008 season. But whatever the outcome, it looks like Magnus Olsen is lost for B71, as it will be difficult to hang on to a player who wants to leave.

B71 have also been on the outlook for a defender since the end of last season, but have now more or less come to terms with that they're unlikely to find one whom B71 can afford.

And being such a small club with limited spending-power, producing their own material is of vital importance and with this in mind, B71 have appointed Serb Dragan Kovacevic as special youth coach. Kovacevic was B71's senior coach in 2006, when B71 won the 1st division. In 2007 he moved to Skála, but was sacked after only 4 matches in charge as Skála was rooted to the bottom of the table without a point. Now he's back with B71.

EB/Streymur's new home soil in Streymnes didn't have a real name last season and was merely called in Streymnes, the village's name, but now they have given the ground a name. It's called "við Margáir". I'd like to hear you foreign readers pronounce that!;-)

One of the players who is coming from the former LÍF is youngster Andreas Lava Olsen, considered as one of the brightest talents in Faroese football, but although he has received several offers from top flight clubs previously, he had refused to leave LÍF. But now he'll get his chance in the top division with the new merged club.

In addition to Lava Olsen, also Sølvi Vatnhamar, Magnus Skoralíð og Finnur Justinussen from former LÍF have signed for the new merged club. Lava Olsen and Vatnhamar are both part of Faroe Islands U21 team.

In foreign media, Faroese soccer players are often described as farmers and fishermen. Well, there is some truth in that maybe, as GÍ's captain, international player Sámal Joensen, is a sailor. And that's the reason why he'll not be playing for the new merged club, as he'll be at sea. But not on a fishing boat, though, but on a Maersk merchant ship. But he'll still be captain however, just not on the pitch, but on the ship!

HB Tórshavn
Update: 22 year-old midfielder Rókur av Fløtum Jespersen has signed a contract with Danish 2nd division club Fremad Amagar. This definitely weakens HB's attacking midfield where av Fløtum Jespersen was the architecture behind much of HB's attractive play. – He can also play as a forward. However, av Fløtum Jespersen would have been lost by HB anyway, as he was always expected to move to Denmark to study anyway. And that – study – he'll still do.

HB have said that Norvegian 1st division club Hødd, which last month bought HB player Rógvi Jacobsen, also were interested in HB's newly acquired defender Fróði Benjaminsen, but that Hødd couldn't afford the price HB wanted.

In regards to Rógvi Jacobsen, he seems to be an instant hit in Norway. Hødd's website, hodd.no, is eagerly reporting from almost every training session and even counting the goals, which is again echoed in different Faroese media. For example several Faroese internet websites wrote that in a training session the team in yellow vests had won 4-2 and that Rógvi Jacobsen had scored all 4 goals for the winning team in yellow – pretty ridiculous :-)

However, Rógvi Jacobsen did prove his worth in his first real match for Hødd, a pre-season friendly against 3rd division club Hareid. Hødd won 8-0, well helped by Jacobsen's hat trick!

ÍF Fuglafjørður
ÍF have signed a contract with Debes Danielsen, who has played for Skála a couple of seasons, but who is originally from NSÍ Runavík.

KÍ Klaksvík
As expected, Paul Clapson does not continue for KÍ. He has moved on to Iceland (as SoccerAndEquipment.com predicted last month:-) where he has joined Afturelding in the 2nd best division.

But KÍ seem to have the replacement ready as two South Americans are linked to the club; one Argentinean and one Brazilian, both strikers. The Argentine is called Jonatan Tridente and has played for Club Atlético Los Andes in the second best division in Argentina, where he scored 41 goals in 103 games – at least according to the internet.

The Brazilian is called Rodrigo Silva. From 2005 to 2006 he spent a year with Norwegian 1st division club Sandefjord, but had difficulties breaking into the 1st team. He therefore decided to return home to Brazil.

The players are expected to arrive in mid-February.

NSÍ Runavík
NSÍ have no intentions on surrendering their championship next season. Let that be clear! They have signed no less than 3 new Serbian players: Aco Pandurevic, who playwed for VB/Sumba last season, and Milan Pejcic and Dejan Stojkovic, who have not played in the Faroe Islands earlier. Pejcic is a midfielder and has earlier played in Israel, while Stojkovic, who is a forward, has played in the highest division in Serbia as well as he has played in Poland, Russia, Greece and Spain.

Sidebar: One of our eager Polish readers, Marcin Michalski, has sent us this information on Dejan Stojkovic:

"Stojkovic had been playing in polish ŁKS Łódź during spring 2005. The team was in 2nd division (as Faroese 1st division). Dejan played in 6 matches but only in one of them full 90 minutes.

ŁKS Łódź finished the season in the middle of the table and then Dejan went to a new club (I don't know where). At that time in ŁKS' squad had been playing Igor Sypniewski (ex-Panathinaikos Athens and Poland national team) and Paweł Golański who now is in Steaua Bucuresti and was fighting in Champions League last autumn."

Poul Jóhannus Justinussen, 19, who played for GÍ Gøta last season, has rejoined NSÍ. Last season he scored 6 goals for GÍ – 5 of them in 5 successive games.

In December's round-up we wrote that veteran defender Pól Thorsteinsson was leaving NSÍ. He has decided to play for his original club VB/Sumba in the 1st division.

Skála have reported that their Nigerian forward Obele Okeke Onyebuchi - or just Óbi – will play for Skála again in 2008. Last season he scored 2 goals for Skála. Not any astronomic tally.

But that's probably all Skála can afford, as they have announced that their financial deficit in 2007 was a substantial one and that they'll have to cut spendings drastically in 2008. This again means that Skála are forced to use their own young players, as they can't afford to throw money after star players from other clubs or from abroad. Some have already mentioned the "merging-opportunity" with some other club. But so far that option hasn't won approval.

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