Once a footballer, always a footballer.
Even if you retire or hang the boots to the famous nail, there will always be a small tournament, memorial, or friends training you will be invited to take part to and show your skills once again.
The offer of amateur tournaments in Tallinn has notably increased over the past seven years.
What before was the amateur level par excellence (the Estonian IV.league, last tier of the Estonian football pyramid) it was pulled alongside with several private organizations organizing outdoor and indoor tournament. The oldest one established in the capital is SEM, Sports Event Management.
Active since 2007, SEM has been organizing yearly both a futsal tournament (more suitable for the winter time) and an outdoor 7-a-side one.
With start of spring, it’s time to re-open doors for The Game to be played outside and lock the entrance to futsal courts got from school gyms around the capital. Before doing that, each competition needs to reach the proper epilogue by giving the winners the deserved accolade.
It is the case of Futsal Grandliiga, the round-robin tournament played over the winter under the SEM flag.
The competition is provided also with a cup tournament, as it’s fashion for any major tournament around Europe.
The same clubs from the Grandliiga have been contesting in a knock-out stages competition preceded by preliminary rounds of qualifiers.
The two clubs that have emerged through the past months clashes are JK Tondi and Kopli City.
The two rivals will play a one-tie final tonight in Viimsi school sports court at 20:45
Let’s go to check how the two clubs are equipped ahead of the clash and how they did get there.
JK Tondi – a team of real veterans
Having a look at the JK Tondi’s squad list, you cannot help noticing that the youngest element is Boriss Podubbnõi, 26-years-old as all the rest of the team is composed by over-30's and over-40's having two of the three goalkeepers enlisted (Dovlatbekjan and Hitrov) hitting 44 years old of age!
If you are familiar with the Futsal Meistriliiga, the Estonian top-flight for the indoor 5-a-side football, you will recognize the name of Viktor Tepljashin, the man behind FC Raketa, Raketa have been challenging 2014 Champions, FC Anzhi, until the last matchday (Raketa ended one point behind the 5-time-in-a-row Champions).
Some of the players of JK Tondi do actually come from FC Raketa: Juri Amosov (1 seasonal goal in Futsal ML), Vadim Dolinin (2), goalkeer Mihhail Meśkov, Andrei Tśurikov (a brace scored against Rummu Dinamo), Boriss Śipunov and the Źidkov brothers.
With such a bulk of experienced players, JK Tondi certainly can be held as the final favourites.
Kopli City – younger amateur side with ‘professional’ approach
For those familiar with Estonian top-flight football (Premium Liiga) the names of Vitali Gussev and Erik Grigorjev will not be new.
They have tied their name in the past to never-relegated side Narva Trans.
Vitali Gussev played also at Levadia where he was 2009 topscorer helping the ‘greens’ to win their 8th title with his 26 goals. Vitali has also played one game with the Estonian national team (against Wales under Tarmo Rüütli in 2009) and moved to Romania (Astra Giurgiu) in February 2010. In the past he has also played in Atlantas Klaipeda and FB Kaunas (Lithuania), Trelleborg IF and Enköpings SK (Sweden)
Unfortunately, his professional career and Grigorjev’s one were interrupted by strong suspicions of match-fixing during their time at Narva Trans where he returned after the experience in Romania.
The judgement is still pending in Estonian courts.
The left full-back, Grigorjev, had a less rich career than Gussev having played only in Estonia (from Tartu to Narva).
In 2011 he scored his personal record of goals in Premium Liiga, 4.
One of those was scored in the 14-0 win against FC Ajax Lasnamäe, the largest final time score during that season.
Sergei Mitin is another former Narva Trans player from Ukraine however he has not been enlisted for the final game.
The responsibility to guide Kopli City against the experience of JK Tondi will be on Gussev and Grigorjev's shoulders.
Road to the final
The tournament is organized with the formula of the double-elimination (check here for more info). The basic concept is that a team is eliminated from the tournament when he loses two games.
The brackets are composed of a ‘Winners bracket’ and ‘Losers bracket’.
Due to the particularity of the formula, JK Tondi and Kopli City have already clashed against each other in the ‘Winners bracket’ final. It was a dramatic clash as teams were levelled at final time (2-2). Tondi managed to win 4-3 at penalties and send Kopli City to the ‘Losers bracket’ where they had to defeat Maxima Kingz (4-2) to reach the Futsal Cup final at stake tonight.
A quality video of that 4-3 after penalties from SEM Facebook page:
JK Tondi had defeated Maxima Kings in the ‘Winners bracket’ semifinal 6-3 after being better than Rekato 9-6 in the quarter-finals. A total of 17 goals scored during regular times against 11 suffered.
Kopli City beat 9-5 Doker in the ‘Winners bracket’ quarter finals and 5-1 Jorma in the semi-final. 20 goals scored (including the 4 goals in the ‘Losers bracket) and 10 suffered.
It will be a tight final and the direction will go in the experienced hands of former international referee from the Estonian FA, Mr. Oleg Timofejev. Gunnar Nuuma will support him in supervising the 40 minutes of the final game.