March 29, 2007: Formula Division 2007 Preview:
Formula Division 2007 Preview
The Faroe Islands soccer league 2007, the Formula Division, gets underway on Sunday, April 1.
But who is the favorite to claim the championship title this season and who will be relegated? Read the short preview below:
(The Clubs are sorted after how they finished last season, with HB first, as champions, and B71 and AB last, as the newly promoted clubs)
Last year's champions are strong favorites to retain the championship title in 2007. An already strong team from last season has been strengthened even more with the Formula Division's top scorer for the last 2 seasons, Christian Høgni Jacobsen, who has switched to HB from NSÍ Runavík. Although he so far (Cup + friendlies) hasn't really produced the goods for HB, he's surly going to crank up the goals when the league gets underway. HB's midfield has also been strengthened with Serbian player Milan Kuljic, who previously has played for VB/Sumba. Between the posts, HB have a new goalkeeper this year, as they have signed VB/Sumba's Polish goalkeeper Marcin Dawid; a goalkeeper of highest quality. Some question marks have been raised over HB's defense (although 3 of them are in contention for a place in the national team), but however, that's not a real concern as HB's offensive qualities will make up for that.
Last year we predicted a medal for EB/Streymur, but at the same time stated: "but not of gold." – Well, those predictions became correct in the end, but that was only because EB/Streymur faltered at the very end of the season, after it looked like they already had the title sewn up. They were just a few short minutes from the title. EB/Streymur have practically the same squad as last season, plus the Eliasen brothers, Sínum and Hanus, who have come from ÍF Fuglafjørður. But will EB/Streymur challenge for gold this season? Well, many predict EB/Streymur will not do as well as last year, but that isn't based on logic, really, as there is no reason that EB/Streymur shouldn't produce the goods once more. – They have some very talented players and it's very difficult to keep EB/Streymur from scoring goals. However, I'll be rude and not give them the gold medals this season either, but the silver or bronze. It's also worth to mention that EB/Streymur have switched arena this season – from the smallest pitch to the biggest, from the village of Eiði on Eysturoy, 14 km south to Streymnes on Streymoy,. EB/Streymur have been almost untouchable at their old stadium, so it'll be interesting to see if their new stadium will be as impregnable.
B36 were dealt a blow when they late into their 2007 preparations learned that their Ivorian forward, Amed Davy Sylla would not return for the 2007 season because of personal reasons, but a solution to those problems have since been found and Sylla will be a part of B36 in 2007. And they dearly need him, because without him, B36 would have no firepower up front, which was very evident in B36's 1-3 loss to AB Argir in the 2nd round of the Cup competition. Veteran player Allan Mørkøre is back with B36 after a year with AB Argir in the 1st division, whom he helped win promotion to the Formula Division last season, but it's questionable if he will have the same success as he had in 2005, when he was one of the main contributors to B36's championship title. Also Ingi Højsted with a past in Birmingham (and Arsenal's youth academy some years ago) will be in action soon, after 1 year's absence because of a knee injury. All in all, B36 have a very strong squad, however, I can't really se them becoming better than no. 3, - and maybe 4th even!
KÍ Klaksvík look to have about the same strength as last season, i.e. just behind the top 3, but well clear of the bottom 5. That gives KÍ 4th or 5th place. They have lost some players like offensive players Christian Lundberg (who scored many goals last season after a late arrival) and Hjalgrím Elttør and defenders Atli Danielsen and Sinisa Jovanovic. But they have made up for those players with Karim Smith (who comes from American university-soccer) and Kaj Ennigarð from GÍ Gøta, both defenders, and offensive players Gunnar Nielsen (Argentinian) from GÍ Gøta and Englishman Chris Ceroni (once with a trainee contract with Charlton) who also comes from American soccer. But if KÍ can improve on last season's 4th place is doubtful.
NSÍ are aiming high this season, as they have their 50-year anniversary, and have signed some quality players. From Skála they have taken firstly coach Johan Nielsen, the Faroes' most successful coach, and then they have also snatched up striker Jónhard Frederiksberg and Serbian midfielder Nenad Stankovic. From B68 Toftir, NSÍ have signed forward Brazilian Anderson Castilho Cardena and Hjalgrím Elttør from KÍ Klaksvík. These are all quality players and are sure to create havocs in many a defense in 2007. On the other hand, NSÍ have lost last two seasons' top scorer, Christian Høgni Jacobsen. However, NSÍ is probably a much more balanced team this season, as last year NSÍ was mostly only a Christian-Høgni-Jacobsen-one-man-band. NSÍ should certainly improve on last season's 5th place. But their defense is maybe not of the highest caliber although not hopeless either. But can they go all the way? Well, they surely have the offensive qualities, but NSÍ have often been deemed pre-season favorites in the past years, but so far they haven't succeeded. Top 3 is possible this season, but the title is probably out of grasp.
GÍ have lost a couple of their better players, defender Kaj Ennigarð and offensive player Gunnar Nielsen (both to KÍ Klaksvík) as well as Hanus Jacobsen, who has gone to AB Argir. However, they have acquired a new young Polish attacker, Tomaz Sajdak. Last season, GÍ made a very bright start and midway through the season were leading the table for a while, but then their form suddenly dipped and they ended up in 6th place. Some pessimists have predicted GÍ to be relegated at the end of this season, but that's not going to happen. But it's difficult to see them getting above that 6th place, and on the other hand, they shouldn't be worse than 7.
Skála have been almost vacuumed for players since last season. Most noticeable are midfielder Nenad Stancovic and striker Jónhard Frederiksberg. Also coach, Johan Nielsen is gone - all of them to NSÍ Runavík. But Skála have made a refill. Nigerian forward Obele Okeke Onyebuchi (called Óbi in Faroese) has come from B36, where he didn't really succeed, and from Serbia, Skála have signed offensive midfielder Slavisa Kaplanovic, whom they expect a great deal from. Skála also have a new goalkeeper, Predrag Markovic from Serbia, who has played for TB Tvøroyri for 2 seasons; – a quality goalkeeper! Coach is Dragan Kovacevic, who led B71 Sandoy to the 1st place in 1st division last season. He has also been coach at VB/Sumba before. All in all, Skála have a quite decent squad, but it takes a bit more than "decent" to compete with the top 5, and they will probably be fighting especially with GÍ Gøta for the 6th and 7th position. But maybe they can surprise us in 2007, as they have produced some good results in their pre-season training matches (although these results shall always be taken with a grain of salt).
VB/Sumba have had a tough time for the last couple of seasons and been very close to relegation, and 2007 will probably be another troublesome season. Their squad is thin and lacks some quality players. They have one in Ivorian Evrard Blé, though. The goalkeeper position became vacant when Marcin David switched to HB Tórshavn, but that position has now been occupied by former Skála goalkeeper, Vlada Filipovic – maybe a notch down, however. VB/Sumba had originally made a deal with Serbian coach Tomislav Sivic (who also was VB's coach in 1996; B36 1997-1999 and KÍ 2000-2001), but because of sickness in his family, Tomislav Sivic's assistant will be taking care of VB/Sumba instead. VB/Sumba will probably be battling it out with AB Argir for that crucial 8th place to avoid relegation.
B71 won the 1st division last season, and as newcomers almost always have a rough time in the top flight, there won't be any exception for B71. Their results in the pre-season friendly games haven't suggested anything else either. Two new Brazilians, in addition to the pair they had before, as well as a new Dane, does not seem to be enough for B71 to get more that 1 year in the Formula Division this time round. In Brazilian Clayton Soares, B71 have a prolific goal scorer, but 1 good goal scorer isn't going to cut it.
A couple of months ago, I would without hesitation have ranked AB Argir as the most likely club to be relegated at the end of the season, but lately AB Argir have indicated that they have no intention to just get 1 year in the Formula Division (AB were promoted as 1st division's runners up last season). Although training matches are very dubious to make conclusions from, it must say something when they can beat some of the better clubs in pre-season (NSÍ twice and EB/Streymur) and more importantly, they ousted holders B36 from the cup with a 3-1 win. However, the problem is, that to make it in the Formula Division, you must get results on a consistent basis, and in the end, I'm afraid AB will have problems producing enough victories. They'll have to beat VB/Sumba for the crucial 8th place to survive.
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