Finland 2016 Takeover
I know, I know. Another new game and another new C&C adventure from myself. This post does not signal the end of my Leeds save but for the time being a small break as i scratch an itch. I love the idea of a C&C game but as of yet i am yet to go on to do big things. I have seen failed attempts with Serbia and Sweden on this version and once again i head to Scandinavia for a 3rd and hopefully final attempt. Scandinavia currently sits at the top of my list as i tend to be out there at least once a month for work and have recently just come back from Helsinki.
So Finland are the unlucky side who i have picked and it is certainly going to be a harder challenge than my previous two efforts. Ranked 75th in the world upon takeover, Finland are a team that has no International pedigree whatsoever having failed to qualify for the World Cup and the European Championships, which in my opinion makes them one of the biggest nations never to grace an International tournament.
This is a country that has produced the likes of Jari Litmanen, Mikael Forssell, Teemu Tainio and Sami Hyypia so it can produce players who can play at the very top. It is also a country that has produced no less than 3 (4 if you count Nico Rosberg) F1 Champions and are also two time Ice Hockey World Champions so the Finns can compete at the highest level given the right time and dedication.
That is where i step in, as i take over the Huuhkajat (Eagle Owls) and do what no man has done before. I have set myself up as a 29 year old Englishman with Finnish set as my 2nd nationality. With Roy Hodgson having managed the side to their highest ever World Ranking of 33, maybe being English is the key to this challenge.
2018 World Cup Qualification
The first tournament up is the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and we have been given this group
Not the kindest of groups as all 5 teams will be tough to beat with Kosovo being an unknown quantity at this level. The aim for me is to finish 4th and potentially sneak 3rd. Croatia should be far to strong as should Turkey and therefore we will need to battle it out with Ukraine and Iceland for that 3rd spot. Considering 4 of the 5 teams qualified for Euro's 2016 this is going to be one hell of a group to get out of.
As the Finnish league season works on calendar years i have 6 months before my first match (vs Kosovo) and i have arranged 3 warm up friendlies (Lithuania, Moldova and Latvia) so i can get used to the team and tactics.
The Golden age of players have now all retired and with that i have a team of mixed quality. I am still assessing all options but have cleared out the national pool, added all of the players who start in the national sides as well as added all recent Finnish call ups as per Wikipedia.
Roman Eremenko is probably the biggest player left at my disposal plying his trade in Russia. At 29 he probably has 2 to 3 qualifying campaigns left in him at best but will be the talisman that i build around for now. His younger brother Sergei Eremenko is in the U19's and could be a star if he develops well.
Talking of relatives of Finnish International, Will Jaaskelainen the sun of the ex Bolton keeper is in the U21's and needs some mental work but could be a future international in goal. For the time being Lukas Hradecky will be the number 1. Fredrik Jensen, Saku Ylatupa and Kaan Kairinen round out the best of the young Finnish talent at my disposal.
Back to the now and Joel Pohjanpalo is the best striker we have. The finishing is there but he needs some overall work if he is to become a star on the International stage. Time is in his favour though. Tim Sparv and Perparim Hetemaj add depth to an okay midfield whilst Niklas Moisander is the man we need to build our defence around initially.
It is an ok team with a smattering of players plying their trade in the big 5 leagues. A few our in the MLS whilst the rest seem to be in Sweden or Denmark predominantly with a couple still in Finland. Lots to work on for me