Nõmme Kalju FC still have some work to do as their involvement in the three game tournament at Tallinn’s Indoor Sports Hall will have given manager Igor Prins some serious food for thought. Kalju have a month to work out a solution and the players at their disposal are sufficient enough to start the season with, but a system to accommodate and get the best from them all is one box still to be ticked.
Despite conceding just two goals over the three games, Kalju only managed to hit the same number themselves as Prins experimented with a couple of different strategies against Paide, Levadia and FC Infonet.
Their first match against Paide, from which their only win came, saw the 2013 runners-up begin with a traditional 4-4-2 formation. Trialists Fabio Prates and Reginald lined up in the centre of midfield with the Portuguese winger Donigio Inzaghi (*) out on the left. Vili Roivanen (*) was given a chance in the centre of defence with young full back Hindrek Ojamaa on the left. Damiano Quintieri partnered Tarmo Neemelo in attack with Janar Toomet playing in front of Tihhon Šišov on the right flank.
The partnership of Prates and Reginald in the centre of the park gave the side good balance, with Reginald carrying out the role of defensive midfielder impressively in the opening exchanges. His anticipation and tackling were particularly impressive and his consistency over the three games will no doubt have impressed Prins, despite him picking up slight injuries in all three matches.
Kalju’s quick, two-touch passing game afforded them more of the possession and the link up play with the two strikers offered several options.
Neemelo’s hold up play allowed other’s to join the attack whilst Quintieri’s creative streak saw him able to move the ball between midfield and attack single-handedly.
Kalju’s quick passing game allowed them to breach the Paide back line on a number of occasions with some lovely through passes and discipline on the ball. However, as was the overall theme from the three matches, clear cut chances were at a premium and shots on goal were mainly reserved for outside the box.
At the back, Kalju seemed a little vulnerable to the pace of Paide’s counter attacks. The midfield were caught upfield on a couple of occasions but fortunately Paide were not able to take advantage. Young Hindrek Ojamaa had the ball played in behind him more often than he would have liked but Kalju dealt with a limited Paide side reasonably well.
Reginald was forced off in the first half with Roivanen moving forward into midfield, giving Kalju a little more of a defensive edge in the centre of the pitch, and Jorge Rodrigues slotting into the back four.
Half time saw Janar Toomet replaced by another trialist, Karl Mööl, with Allan Kimbaloula replacing Inzaghi on the left wing, Robert Kirss coming on for Tarmo Neemelo up front and Richard Aland taking the place ofr Vitali Teleš between the posts.
Allan’s introduction injected some spark into Kalju’s attack as his running in behind the Paide defence and creative ability cutting in from the wing started to test the Paide keeper.
Damiano Quintieri also got on the end of some direct balls through the Paide defence (right) as Kalju’s continued quick passing game was maintained with the introduction of Maehara for Roivanen on the hour mark.
Despite dominating midfield with their intensity, the only goal of the game came from a free kick five minutes from time.
Quintieri curled in nicely from 25 yards out and the reaction of the players showed how seriously they were taking their preparations. Their work rate and ball retention was impressive throughout but the ‘chances created’ column of the statistics needed to be improved in their match with rivals Levadia, who indeed posed the biggest test of the three games.
(1 - continues on Wednesday and Thursday)
(*) the two trialist have left the club and will not be signed