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Aastalõputurniir 2013, end of year football

Angelo PalmeriComment

Summary:

- The venue
- How does it work?
- Matchdays
- Table situation
- Has the winner of the end-of-year tournament won the title the year after?
- New and old faces
- New kids on the block

——————————————————

Each family has its own traditions.

The bigger the family, the bigger the traditions.

The Christmas/New Year’s period is the family holiday par excellence.

The Estonia football family respects the tradition and as every year since many, they gather all together in the Kalevi Spordihall for a two-weeks of intense football days.

Nothing to do with the traditional 11-a-side game that has been feeding our talks during Spring-Summer. This is a special tournament and observes special rules.

The venue

Kalevi Spordihall is a sanctuary of the Estonian basketball tradition.

The Tallinn Kalev of basketball have battled different European teams in this sport palais since it was built (1962).
Before the Saku Suurhall was erected (it is the biggest sport palais in Tallinn) also the Estonian national team of basketball has been playing under the roof projected by architects Peeter Tarvas and Uno Tölpus.

Basketball purists might see this as a profanation, however the tournament has already been taking place for several years. The Estonian FA website provides the readers with a detailed golden book of the winners in all the categories of the most recent years (dating back to 2006).

How does it work?

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Premium Liiga – Aastalõputurniir 2013, end of year football

Angelo Palmeri dicembre 30, 2013 Rumori di Spogliatoio No comments

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Summary:

- The venue
- How does it work?
- Matchdays
- Table situation
- Has the winner of the end-of-year tournament won the title the year after?
- New and old faces
- New kids on the block

——————————————————

Each family has its own traditions.

The bigger the family, the bigger the traditions.

The Christmas/New Year’s period is the family holiday par excellence.

The Estonia football family respects the tradition and as every year since many, they gather all together in the Kalevi Spordihall for a two-weeks of intense football days.

Nothing to do with the traditional 11-a-side game that has been feeding our talks during Spring-Summer. This is a special tournament and observes special rules.

The venue

 

Kalevi Spordihall is a sanctuary of the Estonian basketball tradition.

The Tallinn Kalev of basketball have battled different European teams in this sport palais since it was built (1962).
Before the Saku Suurhall was erected (it is the biggest sport palais in Tallinn) also the Estonian national team of basketball has been playing under the roof projected by architects Peeter Tarvas and Uno Tölpus.

Basketball purists might see this as a profanation, however the tournament has already been taking place for several years. The Estonian FA website provides the readers with a detailed golden book of the winners in all the categories of the most recent years (dating back to 2006).

How does it work?

 

Do you remember those sunny summer afternoons spent outside playing football till late?

With few players available, fantasy came forward.
A parking lot became San Siro Stadium and the walls surrounding it, our teammates.

People of my age with a lot of fantasy, little money and no modern facilities at all shall remember that. We learned to play one-two simple football like this. It took a while though as the opponent was always smarter than us in understanding our move and catching our pass.
The first time we managed to go forward with a quick one-two pass against the wall, we felt like we had won the Champions League (or European Cup as it was named then).

Those days are long gone, however the ‘Aastalõputurniir‘ offers a nostalgic touch to those who were playing wall-football during endless summer afternoons.

The ball never goes out.
Pardon me, it does. Only when it goes over the advertisement banners surrounding the artificial turf. The turf is mounted inside the sport palais over the basketball court.

It’s like a green puzzle patiently built few days before the start of the tournament (kick off was on the 17th of December with the U-17 boys tournament).

Obviously we need two goals, the romance of football.
They are the ones of average size used for football trainings: an halfway between a futsal goal (in height) and the huge goal of the 11-a-side (in width).

6 players each side (five plus the goalie).
17 minutes of playing time.
A yellow card costs a 2 minutes suspension: something similar to basketball I guess, probably a homage to the spirit inhabiting the venue.

The referees stands on the side of the pitch in order not to disturb the action: the ‘man in black’ runs back and forth with no diagonals to be covered as they are taught at the referee courses.

A corner kick is earned only if the ball goes over the advertisement banners.
A goalkeeper might feel the sense of achievement when a low shot goes past his closer post, however he needs to quickly recover as the ball is back into play and he must be quick to catch or to react on the rebound.

17 intense minutes that might easily bring muscle injuries: on the first day, Ken Kallaste (Nõmme Kalju) picked up one and had to abandon the rest of the matchday. A good reason for some clubs to rest their best men and give the youngsters a try. A good chance also to test new players on trial who might sign for the season after.

The event is also televised by the local ‘Tallinna TV

Matchdays
Each category plays on different days.
The formulas are different and we will only focus on the Premium Liiga tournament.

Just for the information’s sake, you need to know that there is even a fans tournament (Pärnu Linnameekond fans won it) and a veterans. The veterans tournament counted on the special presence of Zenit St.Petersburg veterans: among many, Juri Želudkov who won the one and only USSR title with Zenit in 1984
Something out of the ordinary tournament is the Estonian FA vs. Journalists challenge.

I had the honour to be invited to play with the Estonian colleagues in ‘FC Cosmos’ (the journalists team name, inspired by Pele’ and Giorgio Chinaglia US club of the 70′s revived in recent years) and share the goalkeeper role with Ott Järvela, writer at Õhtuleht and Viasat Sport commentator for Premier League and local football.

Spot your columnist and win his flashy shirt (jalgpall.ee)

Spot your columnist and win his flashy shirt (jalgpall.ee)

It was actually my second take on the Kalevi Spordihall turf as a day earlier I defended the FC Kuressaare fans (Viikingid) goal. No great achievement reached there, apart from a blunder that became a YouTube hit in Estonia in less than 24h.

Said that, the Premium Liiga formula is very easy: each of the 10 top clubs play to each other once over two days in 9 rounds (four and a half on each day).

The winner is the club topping the table at the final whistle of the very last game, which, tonight, will be an intriguing Levadia-Kalju derby (22:00 EET).

Table situation
Last night the standing was the following:

Flora       15 points (5 games)
Levadia    13 (5)
Sillamäe   12 (4)
Trans         7 (5)
Kalju         6  (4)
Infonet      6  (4)
Paide         3  (5)
Kalev         3  (5)
Tammeka   3  (5)
Kuressaare 0  (4)

Looking the table from the bottom, nothing has changed compared to the 2013 Premium Liiga season.

Kuressaare are continuing their negative streak. Tammeka are in play-off position (easy, they won’t play another one!) Kalev are on top of that.

Looking the table from the top, we immediately notice that Kalju is not in the top 4. Let alone they have one game less than the others and they will play Kuressaare this afternoon (15:20 EET), the start was not the greatest as they lost 0-1 to Paide on the debut and conceded the same result to Narva Trans in the game after.

Whether or not Igor Prins let himself go to an hairdryer in the dressing room, the reaction from the ‘Pink Panthers’ was immediate as in the third clash they smashed Tammeka 6-2 with the Italian Damiano Quintieri netting his first goal last night.

We managed to capture a video of his second goal, a coast-to-coast overwhelming progression from the flank against Kalev:

The biggest surprise is probably Flora: not only they won all the five games (even though they suffered a bit to get better than Paide – 1-0) but they showed the best game as adapted to the special conditions and rules.

The man of the day for Flora and for the tournament was certainly the Georgian player Zaxara Beglarashvili. His face is not new for Estonian football followers as he already wore the white-green striped shirt in 2012 before returning to his home country. His spell back to Caucasus was not particularly happy as several problems with his club there compelled him to step back to Estonia. Considering the way he shined, all makes imply that he has a great will to stand out also during 2014 season. Zaxara is a very technical and witty player. Much lighter compared to the average of the players of Premium Liiga, he compensates the physical gap with quick thinking and great plays. We wonder what Flora could be by fielding both him and Irakli Logua (not seen at the Aastalõputurniir).

Levadia and Sillamäe are just behind there. The Champions do not seem to be much worried though. Kristal is not playing Kruglov and Dmitrijev as wisely preserving them for future friendlies. Hunt is still on vacation and a chance is given to some players from the double team.

Trans are trying to show they are already hungry to do better than last season and Infonet are more or less there where we left them in Novemeber.

Has the winner of the end-of-year tournament won the title the year after?

Do not get fooled by looking at the table.

This is not the ‘real thing’. It is, like I read somewhere, ‘hockey-football’.
It’s another game. However, I bet no one wants to lose it: ”there are no friendly games as such in football” Mourinho dixit. We shall believe that, shall not we?

However, will the winner of the 2-day tournament give a hint at who could be the winner of the Premium Liiga 2014?

In order to understand that, we need to dig back to the previous years and check who were the winners of the ‘Aastalõputurniir’

The benchmark is set in 2006 (as per Estonian FA website).

stat.png

The statistical data show that, in recent years, this event has not been telling about the upcoming season in Premium Liiga as it happened only three times out of seven. The other four have been completely at odds with the November final results: Flora was 4th in 2009; Kalev was 5th in 2011 and 8th in 2013; Sillamäe ended up 5th in 2012.
Most of the times, the club winning Aastalõputurniir does not reach the podium the season after: this has been the trend in the last three years.

Flora can start to touch wood.

New and old faces

The tournament is a good chance to test new players (usually foreign) or show old faces wearing a different jersey.

Let’s check a bit club by club following the tournament table.

FC Flora
A new and at the same time old face is Zaxara Beglarashvili. We already talked about him earlier and he could be a protagonist also in 2014 after leaving a great impression already back in 2012. At the moment he is topping the topscorer table with 5 goals (one penalty and one delicious back-heel goal against Kuressaare).

Surfacing from double team is midfielder German Ślein who well impressed with good positioning and effective play.

FC Levadia
The new hire from FC Puuma, Pavel Marin, is the only new face for the Champions who added some double team players to the squad.

Sillamäe Kalev
The new face for the ‘longshoremen’ is Maksim Paponov, last year at the Tallinn Kalev.

From abroad they are testing a couple of Lithuanians (Jankauskas and Meistihinkas) and one player from Afghanistan, Hamid Sadid. If signed, he would be the first player ever from that country. Ratnikov seems to be quite satisfied about him: ”I don’t know what is the level there” declared to Soccernet.ee ”however he has been well educated to the game: he is technical and has the right mindset”. You can check Sadidi skills in the following video.

Narva Trans
The new face is Sergei Lepmets, the goalkeeper who gave up to his aspiration of becoming a cook in Ireland and came back to Estonia to play football. However, the scene is taken by Vladislav Ivanov, already at the club in 2012: if they will sign him back, Trans might have solved their issues in the forward line. Ivanov is a powerful striker, able to defend the ball and quickly turn, it will not be easy for defenders to keep an eye on him.

Nõmme Kalju
A French, a Brazilian and a former FC Kuressaare player are the new faces at Kalju. We’re talking about Reginald, a Lille offspring as Allan Kimbaloula, Fabio Prates and Karl Mööl. If the Brasilian guy hasn’t impressed particularly, Reginald seems to have good ball control skills and he is enough calm to develop his game. Karl Mööl, if signed by Kalju for next season, could be an additional weapon of choice for Prins. Kalju have been testing also another Italian player however, it seems he did not leave any impression and he has already left Estonia.

FC Infonet
The news faces are Tanel Melts (whose contract with Kalju expired in Novemeber) and Marten Saarlas (a youngster with trial experiences at Ajax Amsterdam). Also Jakovlev, grown in Zenit and from Levadia, has been added to the squad.

Paide Linnameeskond
A new face could be Carl Tubarik who announced his retirement at the end of season but he is taking part to the Aastalõputurniir (without captaincy). Is this his last ball?
Two new faces at Paide are both coming from FC Kuressaare: forward Elari Valmas and defender Joel Indermitte.
Testing from the U-17 Eliitliiga, Kennet Kukk (Nõmme United).

Kalev Tallinn
Johannes Kukebal has been left at Kalev by FC Flora. However the real new face here is the coach: Tarmo Rüütli. The 59-year-old former Estonian head coach observed his side carefully from the stands. He will be the added value for the growth of the many youngsters.

Tammeka Tartu
The one who is notably absent is coach Uwe Erkenbrecher. Still on holidays in Germany, it seems like he is negotiating his return to Estonia for another season. There are good hopes we could see Uwe back on the bench also in 2014. Stay tuned for his full interview coming up soon on RdS!

FC Kuressaare
Here we go, the really last taste of Premium Liiga and it is not going very well.
It must be said that the ‘vikings’ have not resumed training yet and are packed with young guys.
Kure real season will start in January. Tonight, in the meantime, we can admire Captain Martti Pukk, I had the honour to play against in the EFA-Journos challenge. Go Martti go!

New kids on the block

The Aastalõputurniir it’s a great chance for youngsters to shine and get noticed.

                                               Mark Roosnupp (jalgpall.ee)

                                               Mark Roosnupp (jalgpall.ee)

It’s the case of two promising talents grown at Mart Poom football academy (Nõmme United).
We’re talking about Mark Roosnupp and Mart Preiman who were the top-scorers for Nõmme United in the U-17 Eliitliiga and were tested by Levadia in their double team on Sunday at the end-of-year tournament Esiliiga day. Preiman managed to score a goal in the 4-3 win against Rakvere Tarvas.

They have not been the only talents coming from Nõmme United being tested by bigger clubs as also Randin Rande and Jan Kokla played for Flora II during the weekend. A bunch of these guys were tested also at Kalju II and Kennet Kukk was in Paide’s squad last night as previously mentioned.

Quite noticeably, two of them, Roosnupp and Kokla, accompanied Mart Poom on his trip to England as the legendary goalkeeper paid a visit to his former club, Derby County (see video).
The two youngsters had a training at Derby academy however no interest from the English Championship club was shown after the session.