UA-52481335-1 HIFK - Football Finland

HIFK

Full Name: Idrottsföreningen Kamraterna, Helsingfors
Nicknames: Tähtirinnat (The Star Chested)
Founded: 1897
Stadium: Telia 5G Arena (10,000)
Manager: Antti Muurinen
Chairman: Rene Österman
Last season: 10th

Honours:
Titles: 7 (Last 1961)
Cup: –

Europe:
European Cup: Best 1st preliminary round 1962-63 Austria Wien 3-7
Cup Winners Cup: –
UEFA Cup: Best First Round 1971-72 Rosenborg 0-4
Europa League: –
Champions League: –

HIFK got promoted to the Veikkausliiga in 2015 and had a great first season where they finished 7th. That may have built up their expectations too much for last season as they never were able to match that success. They played many tight games where they lost the games with 1 goal. They never were in much trouble but all these losses led to Jani Honkavaara losing his job as HIFK manager. Previously they were able to fight for a draw or a late win, but last season everything was against them. It was mainly an issue in midfield as Gela – Lassas pair was just not good enough.

They then hired the most successful manager in Finland, Antti Muurinen. With him, they also brought in experienced Mika Väyrynen to lead the midfield and Tomi Maanoja in goal. The changes paid off and HIFK started to play a bit better. In the end though, they only finished 10th just 2 points ahead of FC Inter who had to go to the relegation play-offs. Despite HIFK being a big brand in Finland, their football section does not have much money. Thus they have to operate on a small budget and find bargain deals where ever they can. This creates a problem where they do not have much depth in their squad.

The pre-season has showed that as well. For most of their Cup games they had to play with weaker players and when they lost their best defender Juho Pirttijoki who moved to GIF Sundsvall, it went even worse. In the Cup they only managed to collect 4 points in 5 games and the performances were not good. Their only Veikkausliiga opponent in the Cup was HJK and they lost 4-0. It did not help that Antti Muurinen was on a holiday in Thailand for the most of the time while his team was playing in the Cup. That did not go down well with the media or fans with all questioning his commitment.

If you would have to pick the most important player to their team in the Veikkausliiga, that would be hands down Mika Väyrynen. The 35-year old midfielder is the soul and the engine of the midfield. You could see last season how the team changed when he came. All the other players around him grew in confidence as he came to lead them. His experience is so valuable that HIFK will be in trouble if he goes down injured.

Offense is another potential issue. Juho Mäkelä and Pekka Sihvola have shown that they can score goals at this level. Last season they did not get enough service but maybe for this season that will change. Both players though are over 30 years old and have been injury prone. To replace them, there is the young 18-year old Abaas Ismail who is a big talent but it is not sure if he is good enough yet for the Veikkausliiga. If there are injuries, where will the goals come?

The central defense is completely new. Both Raimi and A Lody are experienced but each have some issues. Kim Raimi is a good defender but despite his 32-years of age, he is untested at this level. Last season for PK-35 he only managed 10 games in the Veikkausliiga. He is injury prone also which does not bode well for HIFK. Nosh A Lody has played over 100 games in the Veikkausliiga but HIFK is his 8th club in 8 years. His inconsistency must be one of the main factors here.  If either one of them gets injured or suspended, their other options are young players.

Overall their starting 11 is Veikkausliiga level but behind these players, there is a big gap in quality. The big potential problem is the fact that almost all their key players are prone to injuries and as they do not have depth in the team, they do not have players to replace them and keep the same level of play. HIFK manager Antti Muurinen will have to find something from his magic bag in order to keep the team in the Veikkausliiga.

Players in: Tomi Maanoja (FC Lahti), Nosh A Lody (FC Honka), Kim Raimi (PK-35 Vantaa), Tuukka Andberg (PK-35 Vantaa), Kristian Heinolainen (IF Gnistan), Eero Hyökyvirta (Klubi 04), Tommi Jyry (Klubi 04), Nikolas Saira (FC Espoo), Antti Ulmanen (Klubi 04), Abaas Ismail (PK-35 Vantaa)

Players out: Tuomas Aho (retired), Jukka Sinisalo (retired), Tuomas Mustonen (AC Oulu), Ville Salmikivi (PFC Beroe Stara Zagora, Bulgaria), Juho Pirttijoki (GIF Sundsvall, Sweden), Joni Korhonen (FC Honka)

Pre-season:
HIFK 2-2 GrIFK Cup
Honka 3-0 HIFK Cup
HIFK 0-2 Gnistan Cup
HIFK 3-0 KTP Cup
HIFK 0-1 Levadia friendly
HJK 4-0 HIFK Cup
GrIFK 0-0 HIFK friendly
HIFK 1-3 TPS friendly

Squad:
Goalkeepers:
Tomi Maanoja FIN
Jere Piirainen FIN
C. Eriksson FIN

Defenders:
Nosh A Lody COD
P. Kuusijärvi FIN
T. Vesala FIN
T. Andberg FIN
K. Raimi FIN
J. Bäckman FIN
M. Hänninen FIN
N. Anyamele FIN
K. Heinolainen FIN
J. Salmi FIN

Midfielders:
X. Gela KOS
D. Rantanen FIN
J. Halme FIN
E. Terävä FIN
T. Jyry FIN
E. Hyökyvirta FIN
F. Lassas FIN
M. Väyrynen FIN

Forwards:
P. Sihvola FIN
J. Mäkelä FIN
A.Ristola FIN
A. Ulmanen FIN
A. Ismail FIN
N. Saira FIN