UA-52481335-1 KuPS Kuopio - Football Finland

KuPS Kuopio

Full Name: Kuopion Palloseura
Nicknames: Kelta-mustat (Yellow-blacks), Kanarialinnut (The Canaries)
Founded: 1923
Stadium: Savon Sanomat Areena (5,000)
Manager: Jani Honkavaara
Chairman: Ari Lahti
Last season: 7th

Honours:
Titles: 27 (Last 2014)
Cup: 12 (2014)

Europe:
European Cup: Best First round 1978-79 Club Brugge 2-9 on aggregate
Cup Winners Cup: Best First round (90-91 Dynamo Kyiv 2-6)
UEFA Cup: Best Second Round 1978-79 Esbjerg 1-6
Europa League: Best third round 2012-2013, Bursaspor 1-6
Champions League: –

Last season for KuPS was very inconsistent. They started the season badly, then improved then lost 4 in a row and improved again only to reach the 7th position. They had good individual players but as a team they could not play on their normal level for the whole season.

For this season the team has changed a lot. Basically half of their starting line-up players are gone. Key offensive midfielder and set pieces threat Petteri Pennanen left to Poland. One of the best center backs in the league, Babacar Diallo left to Austria. The biggest change though was that manager Marko Rajamäki was replaced with former HIFK manager Jani Honkavaara. Rajamäki played with a lot of counter attacking football but it is expected that Honkavaara will try to play a bit more actively and he has gotten players to fit that system.

In HIFK in the last season´s Honkavaara has used the full back a lot. This should be the case this season also and one of the key signings was the experienced Sebastian Sorsa from HJK. He should be a leader to this fairly young team (average age around 22 years). He was not the only new signing for the defense as Nikko Boxall came from VPS to partner Nigeria international Azebuike Egwuekwe in central defense. In goal they brought former Finland U-21 international Otso Virtanen from Hibs in Scotland. If Boxall and Egwuekwe can create a similar partnership as Diallo had with the Nigerian international, then KuPS will not concede many goals. In the pre-season the partnership was still missing. Against Honka, they got hit from set pieces so there is still work to do.

With Pennanen gone, their own set pieces will be a bit worse. They have though some good young players coming through and all of them could make their final breakthrough this season. Solomon Duah came from FC Inter and they can use his speed. Estonian international Ats Purje returned to KuPS from Estonia and his experience and goals could really help the team. Their main striker is again Nigerian international Salami who scored 14 goals last season. He can do even better this season but he has had some family issues. The Finnish embassy in Nigeria has refused to give a tourist visa for his wife and small child and he has not been able to see them for a long time. If this continues, it might affect his performances.

Overall they have a good goalkeeper, good defense (if they learn to play together), good midfield and good attack. Their main question marks are 1) The manager Honkavaara who has never coached a team expected to fight for top places before. 2) If their defense can find a similar balance as last season. 3) If they can find someone to replace Pennanen in set pieces and 4) If they can keep Salami fit and in good mood for the whole season. They do not have any other good striker in the team who could score 10+ goals.

Players in: Sebastian Sorsa (HJK), Solomon Duah (FC Inter), Nikko Boxall (VPS), Ville Saxman (RoPS), Patrik Ala-Harjula (KuFu-98), Joni Mäkelä (FC Haka), Ats Purje (Nömme Kalju, Estonia), Johannes Kytilä (HJK), Otso Virtanen (Hibernian FC, Scotland), Reuben Gabriel (AC Trencin, Slovakia), Reetu Räsänen (KuFu-98)

Players out: Johannes Kreidl (FC Nürnberg, Germany), Juha Hakola (VPS), Petteri Pennanen (Miedz Legnica, Poland), Mika Ääritalo (TPS), Paul Onobi (free agent), Joonas Pöntinen (retired), Aliyu Abubakar (FC Dila Gori, Georgia), Babacar Diallo (SKN St. Pölten, Austria), Patrick Poutiainen (JJK), Atte Hoivala (free agent), Tijan Jaiteh (Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv, Israel), Craig Hill (free agent), Sasa Jovovic (AC Oulu), Joona Lautamaja (free agent)

What you can expect from KuPS this season is that they will play more active football and use their full backs in this. This might open up their defense especially in the beginning of the season so they can concede goals. However they can score a lot of goals themselves as they have multiple options and not just Salami.

Pre-season:
KuPS 9-1 JJK Cup
MP 0-5 KuPS Cup
KuPS 4-2 FC Lahti Cup
Levadia 0-0 KuPS friendly
KuPS 1-0 FC Haka Cup
Ilves 2-1 KuPS Cup
KuPS 2-4 Honka Cup
Haka 2-2 KuPS friendly
KuPS 3-1 KPV friendly
KuPS 1-0 AC Oulu friendly

Squad:
O. Virtanen FIN
F. Ferahyan FIN
M. Töyräs FIN

Defenders:
H. Coulibaly CIV
R. Räsänen FIN
S. Sorsa FIN
J. Kytilä FIN
M. Pitkänen FIN
T. Rannankari FIN
S. Räsänen FIN
A. Egwuekwe NGA

Midfielders:
I. Niskanen FIN
R. Gabriel NGA
V. Saxman FIN
N. Boxall NZA
J. Mäkelä FIN
U. Nissilä FIN
Jo. Nissinen FIN
Ji. Nissinen FIN
A. Räisänen FIN

Forwards:
S. Savolainen FIN
A. Purje EST
P. Alaharjula FIN
J. Hiltunen FIN
G. Salami NGA

Our prediction: 3rd