April 3, 2009: Vodafone Division 2009 Preview:

Vodafone Division 2009 Preview

The 2009 Vodafone Division – or Vodafonedeildin in Faroese – gets underway this Friday evening, 3 April.

So what is to expect this season?

Training matches have produced few goals, and if they play that tactical already in pre-season, what will it be like in the league? It could turn out to be similar to last season which produced the lowest number of goals since the league was extended to 27 matches in 2005.

But more importantly, who will win it? We’ve made a short rundown of the 10 teams competing in the 2009 Vodafone Division.

(The clubs are sorted after how they finished last season, with EB/Streymur first, as champions, and 07 Vestur and AB Argir last, as the newly promoted clubs).

You’d have to be a brave person to bet against EB/Streymur retaining their title. Look at these names: René Tórgarð, Leif Niclasen, Marni Djurhuus, Egil á Bø, Bárður Olsen, Hans Pauli Samuelsen, Pauli G. Hansen, Pætur Dam Jacobsen, Levi Hanssen, Arnbjørn Hansen. Those 10 names could very well be in the starting line up for many of EB/Streymur’s matches. Common for these 10 names is that they are all either former or current Faroese internationals. And then they can pick between Rumanian Sorin Anghel and Brazilian Alex dos Santos as the 11th player. – These two would both be Faroese internationals if they were Faroese. So, when it comes to manpower, there is no doubt what so ever that EB/Streymur has the right material to retain their title – or titles, as they won the double.

Key to EB/Streymur’s successful campaign last season was top scorer Arnbjørn Hansen who scored 20 goals. Should he find the goals more difficult to come by this season, the rest of the “national team” – if we call EB/Streymur that – might not make up for it.

If the Super Cup last Sunday was anything to judge by, then EB/Streymur are a long way from getting all these star players to work as a unit. But then again, it often looked like that last season also, because EB/Streymur didn’t always play the most beautiful football. – But they were very effective.

But surely, EB/Streymur will be ready when it really counts, starting on Sunday 5 April.

HB Tórshavn
After two seasons where HB never really was in contention for the title, they will be hungry for making amends this season.

And when all comes to all, HB is maybe the only team that can challenge EB/Streymur.

HB has more or less the same team as last season. Goalkeeper Símun Rógvi Hansen who has come from B71 Sandoy will compete with the Pole Marcin Dawid for the position in goal. Maybe Hansen is better at dealing with crosses, whereas Dawid’s strength maybe is on the line. For the Super Cup last Sunday, Hansen was preferred in goal. We’ll see if the status will change as the season evolves.

Exiting players to watch out for are midfielder Christian Mouritsen and striker Tróndur Sigurðsson, both 20.

Apart from playing 20 minutes for HB last season, this will be Mouritsen’s first season in the Faroese top division. For 3 years from 2005 to 2008, Mouritsen was part of Manchester City. Mourtitsen has often been deemed the most promising talent for a long time, but injuries have kept the player sidelined for long period of times. (Christian Mouritsen has 2 brothers in the squad; elder brother Jóhan Ejvind and younger brother Kristin)

Last season, Sigurðssons goals helped AB Argir win promotion to the top flight, but he has now returned to HB. It will be interesting to see if these players can make a difference in the top flight.

HB will need them at their best if HB are to challenge for the title as HB last season often found it difficult against teams that were well organized in defence.

HB should have the qualities for at least the runners-up spot. But If EB/Streymur slip up, HB will be ready to take advantage.

B36 Tórshavn
B36 have lost 3 quality defenders since last season. Brazilian left back Alex dos Santos has joined EB/Streymur (where he might play in a more offensive position) and Dimitrije Jankovic, maybe the best defender in the league last season, has returned to Serbia. And youngster Odmar Færø has signed a contract with Brøndby in Dennark where he will stay at least until the summer when the Danish league ends. Also goalkeeper Meinhardt Joensen is lost for B36, as he has joined NSÍ Runavík. He will be replaced by Tróndur Vatnhamar, who came from HB Tórshavn in the middle of last season.

But when all comes to all, B36 still have some quite decent players in Magnus Olsen, Hanus Thorleifsson, Bergur Midjord, Jákup á Borg, Klæmint Matras and youngster Róaldur Jacobsen who excelled in midfield last season, despite of being only 17 then.

Biggest problem for B36 again this season will probably be the lack of a killer-striker. B36 hope that their signing of Sierra Leonean striker Brima Koroma will solve that problem, but don’t expect him to score anything near 15 goals.

The very best B36 can hope for this season is a 3rd place, but that’s optimistic. But they shouldn’t be worse than 5th, either.

Midfielder Ingi Højsted (23) who has been caught in a Steven King-like injury nightmare, to put it like that, almost since he moved to Arsenal F.C. in 2002 is – of course, one is tempted to say – still injured and will likely be out for the whole season.

NSÍ Runavík
NSÍ have an excellent squad this season. Although Player of the Year 2007 Nenad Stankovic has switched to neighbours B68, NSÍ has made up for that by signing Jann Ingi Petersen from B68 and Høgni Madsen from ÍF Fuglafjørður. And as the trio of Einar Hansen (21), Bogi Løkin (20) and Johan Troest Davidsen (21) are just getting better and better (they are all part of the national team), as well as they can boast of Hjalgrím Elttør and Jónhard Frederiksberg, NSÍ look to be a formidable force on paper.

On the other hand, NSÍ are maybe lacking a striker who can score 15 goals during the season.

1st and 2nd position in the table will probably elude NSÍ, who will fight it out with Víkingur and maybe B36 Tórshavn for the 3rdposition.

Appart from Súni Olsen, Víkingur are basically the same team as last season. – But then again, Súni Olsen, who returned to the Faroes last summer after a few years in Danish football, is not just somebody. If he gets cracking, he can change the course of a football match. Expect a free kick or two from him to be curled into the top corner as well.

With former Faroe Island coach Jógvan Martin Olsen at the helm now, Víkingur are looking upwards and hope to improve on their 5th place from last season. That’s a realistic target, but a 3rd place is the very best they can hope for.

B68 Toftir
B68 are likely to be at same strength as last season. Midfielder Jann Ingi Petersen has moved to neighbours NSÍ Runavík, while the Serbian midfielder Nenand Stankovic has travelled the other way, from NSÍ to B68. When in the mood, Stankovic is probably the best midfielder in the country. He wasn’t always in the mood for NSÍ last season, but expect him to be this season.

Last season B68 were facing relegation when the league had reached the halfway point but managed to turn things around and finished in a strong 6th position in the table. A 6th or 7th place is like to be their end destination again this season.

ÍF Fuglafjørður
With a reputation of being a typical yoyo team, ÍF should almost automatically be reckoned as one of the most likely teams to be relegated, especially as they stayed up last season. However, ÍF in 2009 has a quite decent fold of players and shouldn’t get into trouble. And as it this year is 30 years since ÍF won their only title, it would be very disrespectful to their ‘79-heroes to flirt with relegation this season, wouldn’t it?

Last season, ÍF played outstandingly at times and gave the top 3 (EB/Streymur, HB and B36) a whipping at home, but towards the end, ÍF somehow still managed to get into trouble. Ultimately they were 8 points safe from relegation, however, and this season, they ought to stay well above the drop-line, as well.

However, during the first weeks (months maybe), ÍF will have to do without the services of forward Rógvi Jacobsen (who comes from KÍ Klaksvík), as he is still plagued by the groin injury he picked up last season.

KÍ Klaksvík
With mostly home produced players this season, KÍ are very difficult to predict.

All of their 3 foreigners from last season are gone. Especially Brazilian striker Rodrigo will be missed as he was a regular goal scorer. Also Serbian defender Milic Curcic was a quality player, but defenders are often easier to replace. As also forward Rógvi Jacobsen (who arrived midway through the season, but was injured a lot) has gone (to ÍF Fuglafjørður), KÍ might lack firepower up front. And without scoring, you don’t win football matches. That could become fateful for KÍ, as draws don’t lift you up the table.

KÍ will be glad just to survive this season, and they might just pip 07 Vestur and AB Argir for the relegation spots.

07 Vestur
Newcomers 07 Vestur are also very difficult to predict. As newly promoted, they’re always going to be in the group of usual suspects for relegation. However, in the Cup competition last season, 07 Vestur twice faced teams from the top division and provided stiff opposition. First they ousted Víkingur (winning on penalties) and then they drew with B36 in the next round, but were beaten on penalties, however.

If 07 Vestur can reproduce that sort of form, then they just might sneak above the crucial 9th place in the table.

AB Argir
AB are going to find it difficult to survive in the top flight, just as they did in their previous try in 2007 when they were relegated alongside VB/Sumba. Although training matches can be totally worthless when assessing teams’ abilities, teams that consistently can’t win matches against equal opposition, rarely turn it around in the league.

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