There are 3 matches on Saturday 30 in the Finnish League Cup with HJK hosting Mariehamn, RoPS hosting VPS and newly promoted PS Kemi hosting Ilves Tampere.
HJK – IFK Mariehamn 14:00 Tali-Halli, Helsinki – Match played on Sunday 12.15
The biggest club in Finland HJK had an average season last year finishing 3rd which was poor considering that they had won the title several years in a row. They start the new season with almost a completely new team. Several key players have left but they have been able to get some new young blood into the team. Biggest signings so far have been Ville Jalasto from Stabaek, Vincent Onovo from Inter and Richard Gadze from the Indian Super League. Needless to say though is that the team is very young and inexperienced. So far HJK has played one friendly against Estonian team FC Infonet that they won 1-0. In the match HJK was clearly the better team where all of the players got some playing time. Looks like this year HJK will rely a lot on their younger players.
HJK is not the only team that has changed a lot after last season. IFK Mariehamn has a new head coach after Lyyski stepped down after many many years. Also the playing team has suffered some losses with number 1 goalkeeper Otso Virtanen moved to Hibernian in Scotland, midfielder Tammilehto to FC Lahti and key forward Petteri Forsell looking for a club abroad. One of the key signings though has been the 31 year old Bosnian midfielder Gabriel Petrovic who moved to Mariehamn from Superettan team Brommapojkarna. He has a lot of experience from Allsvenskan also and will be a key player in Veikkausliiga this season. They also have played one friendly where they beat Allsvenskan team Gefle 2-0 in Åland.
HJK: Uusitalo – Taiwo, Rexhepi, Jalasto, Sorsa – Malolo, Onovo – Lingman, Tanaka, Lappalainen – Ylönen
IFK: Viitala – Granlund, Kojola, Lyyski, Sparrdal Mantilla -Sid, Ekhalie, Wirtanen, Petrovic – Span, Assis
This should be quite a tight game so the odds are too much for the home team. Depending on the line ups, IFK definitely has a chance to get something from this match and Double Chance with 2.00 odds are good. Both teams have attacking power and should score also.
RoPS – VPS 14:00 Arina Areena, Oulu
RoPS will play all of their League cup matches in Oulu so they will have to do some travelling to get to their home games. RoPS team has changed quite dramatically after last season with key defender Obilor moving to Inter Turku and key midfielder Mostagh Yaghoubi moving to Kazakhstan. Also Goalkeeper Chechinski moved to Helsingborgs in Sweden and Top goalscorer Kokko looking for a club abroad. The replacements that they have gotten are good but at least so far not as good as the players who left. Robert Taylor from JJK and Juuso Hämäläinen from Inter Turku are both young rising stars but not key players yet. RoPS has played one friendly so far against first division team AC Oulu that ended 1-1.
VPS had a poor last season and for this season they do not look much better. Their captain and main goalkeeper retired and top goalscorer Mäkelä left to HIFK. VPS also played one friendly with first division team FC Jazz which finished 0-0. In this friendly and in training they have been testing several players including goalkeeper Craig Hill, Defender Jonas Levänen and midfielder Milos Djordjevic. On top of this Montenegrin midfielder Luka Tiodorovic and American Jossimar Sanchez have joined the team training. They can only use 2 test players in this match so they will have to choose who they will play with. VPS will miss Jerry Voutilainen and Timi Lahti who are injured.
Starting line ups:
RoPS:Ricardo – Jammeh, Hämäläinen, Kalermo – Heikkilä, Okkonen, Taylor, Mäkitalo, Pirinen – Kokko, Malcolm
VPS: Kevari – Koskimaa, Engström, Vahtera, Lampi – Peth, Tiodorovic, Lähde, Tamminen, Hertsi – Boxall
RoPS to win
PS Kemi – Ilves 16:00 Junko Halli, Kemi
This is the first competitive match for the newly promoted PS Kemi team against a Veikkausliiga team this season. They have been waiting for this for a while and they want to do well in this competition so they can show that they are in the league to stay. They are yet to open their season as they have only played a match among players in the team. Ilves therefore is more match fit as they have already played 3 games. They played in a tournament in Pori where they beat Jazz on penalties but loss the final on penalties to FC Lahti. They also played a 2-2 in a friendly against first division team TPS.
PS Kemi has been able to keep the core group of players with the team with only goalkeeper Daniel Kollar moving to PK-35. Otherwise the team has stayed the same. Their foreign players Kaby, David Bitsindou, Sasa Jovovic, Christian Eissele and Billy Ions are training but Jovovic is not match fit after his knee operation. Winger Cornelius Stewart will also miss the game due to injury. Kemi has 4 test players at the moment from which they will have to decide which 2 players will make it to the team against Ilves.
Ilves will go into this match with more match fitness after playing already 3 games. They will miss Eero Korte, Jonne Hjelm and Felipe Aspegren who are all injured. They will test a Senegalese winger Emile Paul Tendeng in this match. Ilves has lost a couple of experienced players like Kujala from last season but overall the team looks slightly better than last season as Marco Matrone from SJK and Mikael Soisalo from HJK have joined the team. Especially the Finnish U18 winger Soisalo has been looking good.
Starting line ups:
Kemi: Pennanen – Bitsindou, Taimi, Ryan, Turpeenniemi – Kvist, Veteli, Jones, Räihä, Gullsten – Aliu
Ilves: Hilander – Miettunen, Aho, Haukioja, Hynynen – Matrone, Siira, Juuti, Soisalo – Hilska, Lahtinen
This will be a tight game with possibly many goals. Both teams play attacking football and are capable of scoring. Ilves has the edge though due to them already playing some matches with the team. Ilves draw no bet with 2.00 odds is good. Also over 2.5 with 2.20 odds has value.