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Premium Liiga 2015 guide: Sillamäe Kalev

Angelo PalmeriComment

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Story and facts in brief

Founded during Soviet times, the club started its activity in 1958 representing the city of Sillamäe in the Estonia SSR second tier. The club won two Estonian SSR cups in 1977 and 1978. The club as we know it was refounded in 1997. The expansion of the Port of Sillamäe (one of the club’s sponsors) brought investments into the city that meant also sponsors. In two years (2006-2008) they managed to rise from third tier to Mestriliiga/Premium Liiga where they have been ever since. The club owner (Aleksander Starodubtsev) has a son playing in the squad (Mikhail, goalkeeper).

The club has managed to the second round of an European competition at their second attempt (in season 2014 after going past Finnish FC Honka).

They will play Europa League for the second season in a row for the first time in their history.

Marius Cinikas, right, when he was in Scotland (Hearts of Midlothian). He left Sillamäe one year ago just to return from Suduva Marjampole during the 2015 winter transfers window.

Marius Cinikas, right, when he was in Scotland (Hearts of Midlothian). He left Sillamäe one year ago just to return from Suduva Marjampole during the 2015 winter transfers window.

Transfers (full stories here)

ARRIVALS
Artem Levizi (RUS - GK, end of loan to Kalev Tallinn)
Viktor Plotnikov (EST - LMF, Narva Trans)
Tihhon Śiśov (EST - RB, Nõmme Kalju)
Marius Cinikas (LTU - RB, FK Suduva Marijampole)
Aleksandr Ivanjushin (EST - RB, Lokomotiv Jõhvi)
Rytis Leliuga (LTU - RW, Zalgiris Vilnius, LTU)
Giorgio Di Vicino (ITA - trequartista, SF Aversa Normanna, ITA)
Janar Toomet (EST - RW, Nõmme Kalju)

Darius Miceika (LTU - CMF, Trakai, LTU)

DEPARTURES
Evgeni Kabaev (RUS - FW, Persija Jakarta, IDN)
Nikolai Mashichev (RUS - LMF, FC Infonet)
Aleksandr Volodin (EST - RB, FC Infonet)
Mikhail Lavrentjev (EST - GK, FC Infonet)

Stanislav Murikhin (RUS - RMF, Volgar Astrakhan, RUS)
Oleksiy Lazebni (UKR - MF, MFK Vranov nad Toplou, SVK)
Micha (SPA - MF, FC Pinatar, SPA)
Vjatseslav Zahovaiko (EST - FW, free agent)
Hiroki Maehara (JAP - RB, free agent)

Reginato (ITA/BRA – RB, free agent)
Giorgio Di Vicino (ITA - trequartista, SF Aversa Normanna, ITA)

Coach: Sergei Frantsev (RUS - confirmed)

Registered players on Premium Liiga website

Double team

Janar Toomet took the Kalju jersey off to wear Sillamäe one. Second change of club in 2 years

Janar Toomet took the Kalju jersey off to wear Sillamäe one. Second change of club in 2 years

Realistic target for 2015

Looking at the outbound transfers, Sillamäe have lost many of their protagonists of season 2014 achievements. Obviously, it is Yevgeny Kabaev the big name missing in 2015 squad list. And we can agreeably say that a replacement has not been found yet. Kvasov and Volkov shall replace the 36 goals scored by the Ukrainian hitman who relocated to Indonesia.
It will be quite hard.

Also Volodin, Murikhin (16 goals) and Mashichev left to go to strengthen the ambitions of FC Infonet.

What is left from last season’s squad has been reinforced with a couple of Kalju players (Śisov and Toomet), one fundamental player in Narva (Plotnikov) a Lithuanian Champion (Leliuga) and an Italian with a glorious past and some class to show (Di Vicino). Additionally, Marius Cinikas returned to the club together with another right-back from Lokmotiv Jõhvi, Aleksandr Ivanjushin.

The squad doesn’t look stronger than the one in the past season, however coach Frantsev will use his experience to brew something new and continue the positive streak from 2014 (7 wins in the last round of 9 games) that helped them clinching the second place. Scoring 108 goals shall be harder as a task.

Sillamäe are definitely aiming at the podium in order to give continuity to their Europa League streak however, title ambitions seem prohibited unless all the big three from Tallinn will commit a mass suicide. Unlikely.

Leliuga when was playing on the Vilnia riverside

Leliuga when was playing on the Vilnia riverside

Rising stars

Viktor Plotnikov 
might sound like the most anonymous of the signings happened in Premium Liiga winter window, however it is not quite so. He was Narva Trans topscorer last season and provided most of the flair shown by Narva (not much) in an anonymous season in the relegation dogfight. Sillamäe have signed a proper left winger who can play elsewhere in the midfield and provide good material to Frantsev’s 4-2-3-1.
Rytis Leliuga has already scored few goals in preseason and will certainly be one to keep your eyes on. He has experiences in Scandinavia (Norway and Denmark) even though his role in Zalgiris’ 5th Lithuanian title was marginal (12 appearances enriched with 4 goals and 2 assists, according to Transfermarkt.de). He will be useful for the European tie in July.

It didn't last so long for Di Vicino in Estonia...gone before kick-off.

It didn't last so long for Di Vicino in Estonia...gone before kick-off.

Added value

Whether Giorgio Di Vicino would have been or not, we will never know since he departed Estonia soon after Sillamäe's training camp in Finland. The goal against Pärnu (below video) will be the only sign of Di Vicino passage in Estonia (he scored another one there's no video for).
At this point it's very hard to hint at who could be added value for the pre-existing squad deprived of the four key-elements. The Lithuanian group (Baguźis, Cinikas, Leliuga and the late-added Miceika) could form a close-knit bulk.

by Angelo Palmeri