March 28, 2008: Formula Division 2008 Preview:

Formula Division 2008 Preview

The Faroe Islands football league 2008, the Formula Division, gets underway on Saturday, March 29.

But who is the favorite to claim the championship title this season and who will be relegated? Read the preview below:

NB: At the moment of writing, several of the foreign players have still not received a working permit, so they could be missing in the first rounds.

(The Clubs are sorted after how they finished last season, with NSÍ first, as champions, and B68 and ÍF last, as the newly promoted clubs)

NSÍ Runavík:
Last season's champions are among the favourites to retain their title in 2008. They have a very strong squad with good player all over the pitch, but two of NSÍ's most experienced players from last season will not be playing for NSÍ this year. Bobble-hat goalkeeper Jens Martin Knudsen has retired, and defender Pól Thorsteinsson has left for VB/Sumba in the 1st division.

But to make up for this, NSÍ have invested in 3 Serbian players. To replace Thorsteinsson on right back, NSÍ have signed Aco Pandurovic from VB/Sumba, and he has already proved his worth with some quality displays in pre-season with good offensive runs and quality crosses.

The two other new Serbs are Milan Pejcic in midfield and forward Dejan Stojkovic.

Between the posts, Jens Martin Knudsen will be replaced by his deputy from last season, Tórður Thomsen. Thomsen has in previous seasons gathered experience playing for B68 Toftir. He's a young lad, 21, but a talented prospect, and with a solid defence in front of him, NSÍ shouldn't worry to much, although he's not quite in Knudsen's league yet.

But one of NSÍ's worries could be the lack of an "every-match goal scorer". Last season, their goals were coming from all positions, but as their central defender Óli Hansen was their 2nd highest goal scorer, things don't look quite right. Last season, they had the margins on their side, but they can't just rely on the margins to help them out again this season. New signing, Stojkovic, has been hired to shoot goals, but so far, he hasn't really impressed. But it's still early days and things could change.



EB/Streymur:
Having been runners up in 2007 and 2006, EB/Streymur are desperate to go one better this season. To mastermind that mission, they have appointed Sigfríður Clementsen as new coach. Although only 35, Clementsen is already an experienced coach and steered B36 Tórshavn to the title in 2005.

And with some of the best attacking players in the Faroes in his fold, like Arnbjørn Hansen – maybe the best striker in the country -, Hans Pauli Sanuelsen and Rumanian Sorin Anghel, Clementsen's chance of another championship title is a very realistic one. In addition to these players, EB/Streymur have also signed the Bulgarian attacking player Marcell Balog, who has been very impressive in pre-season, scoring lots of goals.

This, mixed with a superb goalkeeper in René Tórgarð behind a solid defence, will make EB/Streymur a formidable force. And with Faroe Islands international, Mikkjal Thomassen, in midfield, the balance between offensive and defensive qualities seems to be exactly right. Thomassen has come from B36.

EB/Streymur have already shown their strength when they knocked champions NSÍ out of the cup just recently, although they also lost 4-0 to the same outfit in the Supercup a week before. – That was after a red card for Thomassen.



B36 Tórshavn:
Most pundits don't give B36 much of a chance to challenge for glory this season after a player exodus since last year. No less than 3 Faroe Islands internationals in addition to last season's top scorer, Ivoryan Sylla Amed Davy, have left B36. Sylla went to Maltese outfit Birkikara FC, goalkeeper Jákup Mikkelsen has joined childhood club KÍ Klaksvík, defender Fróði Benjaminsen went across to neighbours HB Tórshavn, while midfielder Mikkjal Thomassen has switched to EB/Streymur. Also Faroe U21 player, defender Johan Gunnarson, is lost for B36, as he has moved to Denmark to study, but has also signed a contract with Køge in the Danish 1st division.

To replace Jákup Mikkelsen in goal, B36 have acquired KÍ's now former goalkeeper, Meinhardt Joensen, who didn't have much hope of action in KÍ when Mikkelsen had arrived. On a good day, Joensen is a quality goalkeeper, but he has some off days, too.

Although B36 also have other quality players like Brazilian Alex Jose dos Santos in defence, Ingi Højsted in midfield and Bergur Midjord up front, it will be surprising to see B36 in the top 3. Neither Hungarians Karoly Potemkin from EB/Streymur or Nagy Tamás, who's new in the Faroes, will make up for the losses of Sylla and the rest. Magnus Olsen has also just arrived from B71.



HB Tórshavn:
HB were odds-on favourites to retain their title last season, but ended in a disastrous 4th place after a terrible start to the season which they never recovered from. This season, HB will be eager to make a mend on last years disappointments.

HB's main problems last season were mainly defensive. To strengthen that part, HB have invested in Fróði Benjaminsen, who comes from B36. If that will be enough, time will reveal. Benjamin's debut for HB in the Cup against ÍF didn't give the answers to the question either, as he was sent off late in the game for descent. It'll also be important that Polish goalkeeper Marcin Dawid improves on his antics from last season where he underperformed and eventually lost his place to Tróndur Vatnhamar. In pre-season, both keepers have enjoyed equally as much time between the posts, but Dawid was preferred in the Cup against ÍF.

Up front, HB have two of THE very best forwards in Andrew av Fløtum and Christian Høgni Jacobsen. Jacobsen was the league top scorer in both 2006 and 2005, while av Fløtum was top scorer in 2002. Interestingly, it was with 18 goals every time. In pre-season, av Fløtum has been red hot and could very well become the top scorer yet again in 2008.

The loss of forward Rógvi Jacobsen to Norwegian club Hødd shouldn't bring to many problems, although his dominance in the air may be missed at times. On the other hand, the loss of Rókur av Fløtum Jespersen to Danish 2nd division side Freman Amager could prove to be more critical, as he was often the architect behind the attacks.



Víkingur:
The new club Víkingur, a result of the merger between GÍ Gøta and LÍF Leirvík, didn't have the best of starts to their existence as they crashed out of the 1st round of the Cup a week ago after losing on penalties to 1st division club 07 Vestur.

And the club was equally disappointed last month when they learned that their recently appointed Brazilian coach Dido had to leave again, because he didn't have the necessary coaching license which the football association requires. Instead, Dido's assistant Anton Skorðadal has been named head coach.

In midfield, the absence of Sámal Joensen, who has retired, will be felt. Also Dane Christian Lundberg, who played the 2nd half of the season last year, has returned to Denmark. Polish Player Tomasz Sejdak has returned to Poland and Pól Jóhannus Justinussen is back with NSÍ Runavík. But from LÍF they have some exciting youngsters like Sølvi Vatnhamar and Andreas Lava Olsen, who both are being predicted a bright future. To shoot the goals, Víkingur have signed a Hungarian forward, Zoltan Bukszegi. At the other end, Geza Turi, also from Hungary, will still be the goalkeeper.

Víkingur is unlikely to improve on GÍ Gøta's last season's 5th place.



Skála:
Skála could struggle even more than they have done in last two seasons, and they certainly are a long way from the force they were in 2004 and 2005, when they were 3rd and 2nd, respectively. Last season, they had a disastrous start, losing their first 4 games of the season, but after firing the coach, the tide turned, and Skála eventually ended the season in a safe 6th position.

Two of their Serbs from last season have left. Attacking midfielder Slavisa Kaplanovic has returned to Serbia, while defender Milic Curcic has joined KÍ klaksvík. To make up for this, Skála have signed two Rumanians; a midfielder and a forward.

In goal, Serbian Pedrag Markovic will be a key figure. Although Skála lost to B36 in the Cup, Markovic proved that he was in excellent form. Some clean sheets from him could help Skála avoid relegation.



KÍ Klaksvík:
Although they want it so badly in Klaksvík, KÍ won't be serious title challengers this season either. And neither will they be in the top 3. In fact, KÍ have only once been in the top 3 since they won the double in 1999. A 5th place is probably the best KÍ can hope for.

Paul Clapson, who's been KÍ's goalmaker the last couple of seasons, has left for a team in the Icelandic 2nd tier. To make up for this, KÍ have signed two Brazilians, Rodrigo and Anderson (not the Anderson who played for NSÍ and B36 last season). Rodrigo has been doing well in pre-season and has been scoring goals regularly (unfortunately, he got injured shortly before the Cup tie against Fram.

In defence, KÍ have strengthened their team with former Skála player, Milic Curcic from Serbia.



B71 Sandoy::
B71 are not hiding that their main objective is first and foremost to avoid relegation. And that will be a difficult task, they admit. Their squad is thin and cannot afford injuries, but they will rely on Brazilian forward Clayton Soares's goals to keep them safe. The other 3 Brazilians from last season are also still in the team, but Danish defender Anders Rasmussen has returned to Denmark, and Faroe Islands U21 player Magnus Olsen has joined B36.

B71 have a very tough opening program where they play against NSÍ (away), EB/Streymur (home) and HB (away). B71 could still be pointless after the first 3 rounds. If they first get suckered into the "relegation-hole", they could find it difficult to escape from it again.

Last season they built up a healthy margin to the relegation line early in the season, and after that, they never really faced any danger. This season, that margin will maybe not be there.



B68 Toftir:
As a newly promoted team, B68 should be expected to struggle in the Formula Division, but as they won the first division so emphatically last year, maybe B68 could spring a few surprises to some of the more established sides.

B68 have imported a whole host of foreign players in their quest for survival; 4 from Senegal, 1 from Denmark, 1 from Holland, in addition to the Serbian goalkeeper they have signed from VB/Sumba. And before that, they already had a Brazilian in the team; Alex Troleis who has been living in Toftir for some years now.

The Dane is a forward and played for KÍ some years ago. In the pre-season friendlies, he's been scoring a lot of goals for B68. He could easily be worth the money.

The Senegalese are Pape Landing Sambou (defender) and has been called up for Senegal's U23 team. Ndende plays in midfield. Keita is a forward, while Badara Diedhiou is a midfielder. Reportedly, these are quality players.

The Dutchman is called Ralph van Dooren and also played for B68, mostly in midfield, in 2006. In the 2008 pre-season, he's so far been playing in defence. This is what we wrote about him in the January round-up: "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 team-mate 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… "

And he hasn't disappointed in 2008, as he of course did receive a yellow card in the cup game against B71. So, his card record for 2008 is so far "intact": played: 1 | yellow cards: 1 | red cards: 0.

The goalkeeper, Serbian Vlada Filipovic, is of the highest quality. He played for VB/Sumba last season, but it was definitely not his fault that VB/Sumba were relegated, as he was one of the best keepers in the Formula Division.

Last week, B68 suffered a blow when Jóhan Petur Poulsen broke a leg in the cup tie against B71.

B68 will be glad if they can avoid relegation, but it should be possible. 7th position is probably the very best they can hope for.



ÍF Fuglafjørður:
As the 2nd placed promoted team, ÍF's stay in the Formula Division could easily become a very short one. However, when they played HB in the cup a week ago, they made a very spirited effort, and if they can reproduce the ending of that match, where they put real pressure on HB, ÍF could prove to be no pushovers after all.



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