UA-52481335-1 RoPS - Football Finland


Full Name: Rovaniemen Palloseura
Founded: 1950
Stadium: Keskuskenttä Rovaniemi (4,000)
Manager: Juha Malinen
Chairman: Risto Niva
Last season: 6th

Titles: –
Cup: 2 (2013)

European Cup: –
Cup Winners Cup: Best Quarter finals (87-88 Marseille 0-4)
UEFA Cup: Best second round 89-90  Auxerre 0-8
Europa League: Best 2nd qualifying round 2016 Lokomotiva Zagreb 4-1 on aggregate
Champions League: –

RoPS was unable to continue with the same high level in 2016 as they did during the 2015 season when they finished 2nd. Last season they finished 6th and one of the biggest reasons was that they let their talismatic striker Aleksandr Kokko to leave to Australia. For the remaining of the season they were unable to replace him. Estonian striker Albert Prosa was not a similar player as Kokko who was able to keep the ball up and create own chances. Without him, the ball came back faster and put their defense under pressure.

For this season the team has changed a lot. There are not many players left from the team that finished 2nd in 2015 and most of the players have been replaced by young talents with little or no experience in the Veikkausliiga. This has been a pure financial decision. RoPS made a 400k loss last season and they are still trying to balance the books.

RoPS has an excellent manager in Juha Malinen who will always make sure the team has a fighting chance, but this season he will have to perform even better than he did last season. They have been known to be a team that presses the ball high up and then hits on the counter. For this season they are expected to be a bit more active team with all this young talent. During pre-season their biggest weakness was their defense which was too weak. To fix this, they brought in Ivan Tatomirovic who last season played with HJK and former Ghana international David Addy as left back. Their defensive line will thus be Addy – Hämäläinen – Tatomirovic- Väisänen. That 4-line compares well to other Veikkausliiga teams but if anyone of them is missing then RoPS is in trouble.

The same can be said for their midfield. Sani Kaita and Antti Okkonen are both good players for the Veikkausliiga and above them Robert Taylor is their best player. Those 3 can match almost any midfield but again behind them is a big gap. The big question marks are in offense. Saku Ylätupa who RoPS loaned from HJK can make a breakthrough this season on the left wing but Cam Felek on the right and Sakari Tukiainen as the main striker are completely untested at this level. Tukiainen became a known player as he broke the Finnish 2nd Division scoring records a couple of seasons ago with Atlantis (40 goals in 29 games). That earned him a move to Estonia and FC Flora where he kept scoring goals but was never a proper starter. Last season he scored 16 goals in 26 games. Experts have doubts if he can score also at this level but stranger things have happened.

Overall RoPS has a capable starting 11 which should be enough that they will not have any worries about relegation. If they start getting injuries though, they might be in trouble. Also a lot will depend on Tukiainen if he can score goals. They do have a lot of good young players and if they can take the next step, it might give RoPS a lift. If someone can do that, it will be Juha Malinen.

Players in: Sani Kaita (JS Hercules), Lassi Järvenpää (HJK), Timo Stavitski (Klubi 04), Sakari Tukiainen (FC Flora, Estonia), Leo Väisänen (HJK), Cem Felek (Fatih Karagümrük SK, Turkey), Anselmi Nurmela (AC Oulu), Saku Ylätupa (HJK, loan), Ivan Tatomirović (HJK), David Addy (Delhi Dynamos FC, India), Emeka Friday Eze (Cameroon league)

Player out: Janne Saksela (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands), Ville Saxman (KuPS), Juha Pirinen (HJK), Mika Mäkitalo (FC Inter), Akseli Kalermo (AC Oulu), Abdou Jammeh (Al-Shamal SC, Qatar), Albert Prosa (FC Infonet Tallinn, Estonia), Pyry Hannola (FC Midtjylland, Denmark 1.7.), Jarkko Lahdenmäki (Fredrikstad FK, Norway), Jose Pedrosa Galan (CE L’Hospitalet, Spain), Ricardo (FK Bodø/Glimt, Norway), Michal Mravec (KPV), Jean Fridolin Nganbe Nganbe (end of contract), Mamut Saine (end of contract), William John Oluremi (end of contract), Ransford Osei (end of contract)

RoPS 3-0 HauPa Cup
AC Oulu 1-2 RoPS Cup
RoPS 9-0 OPS Cup
KPV 4-2 RoPS Cup
RoPS 1-1 PS Kemi Cup
RoPS 0-2 SJK Cup
RoPS 2-2 AC Oulu friendly

A. Reguero ESP
J. Kangas FIN

I. Tatomirovs SRB
L. Järvenpää FIN
D. Addy GHA
L. Väisänen FIN
J. Hämäläinen FIN

S. Kaita NGA
A. Okkonen FIN
P. Hannola FIN
R. Taylor FIN
E. Muinonen FIN
A. Nurmela FIN
J. Hyvärinen FIN
A. Heikkilä FIN

S. Ylätupa FIN
E. Eze NGA
J. Luiro FIN
S. Roiha FIN
T. Stavitski FIN
S. Tukiainen FIN
C. Felek AZE

Our prediction: 8th