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Sunday, December 17, 2017


Finland won the recent Nordic Futsal Cup, which was held in the Norwegian town of Stjørdalshalsen, near Trondheim, from 5-9 December. Five nations took part: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, holders Finland and Greenland. This was the fourth editon of the tournament, which first saw the light of day in Denmark in 2013 and was won by Sweden. Finland won the next two tournaments in 2014 and 2016 without losing a match.

Greenland, meanwhile, were appearing in their second tournament after making their bow last year's competition in Sweden. They finished bottom, but beat Norway to record their first competitive victory. Many of the Greenland team from last year made the journey to north-central Norway, including a number of players better-known for their exploits outdoors.

Finland played Sweden in the competition opener, and won in some style by 6 goals to 1. Sweden took the lead through Petrit Zhubi before the Finns equalised before half-time and ran riot in the second half, scoring five further goals. Miiko Hosio scored a hat-trick for Finland, with Jarmo Junno scoring twice; national team record-goalscorer Panu Autio also got his name on the scoresheet. Hosts Norway then took on Denmark in the opening day's second game, but things did not go according to plan as the Danes won 2:1 before a crowd of 254 at the Stjørdalshallen.

The second day opened with Denmark defeating Sweden by the odd goal in seven with a couple of good goals thrown in, the best of which was Jihad Nashabat's long-range drive for Sweden's third. In the day's second fixture, Finland continued their goal-spree with another four against Greenland, including a brace from Juhana Jyrkiäinen. Greenland's squad contained a large number of players who play both football and Futsal, and it was one of them, Hans-Karl Berthelsen - perhaps one of the country's most talented players, both indoors and outdoors - who tapped home a late consolation goal.

Finland continued their fine run with a 3:1 win against Norway, their third on the bounce, eliminating the hosts and maintaining hopes of a third Nordic Futsal Cup triumph; Miika Hosio - who plays in Italy for GS Giovinazzo - scored for the third game in a row. 

Next up was Sweden against Greenland, and it was a see-saw 40 minutes, with Søren Kreutzmann giving Greenland an early lead before Sweden hit back with two goals in three minutes to lead at the break. Niklas Thorleifsen equalised in the 28th minute, but parity lasted for just 12 seconds as Niklas Asp put the Swedes back in front. Kuluk Ezekiassen levelled with six minutes left, but then it all started to go wrong. The normally dependable Malik Juhl received his second yellow card a minute later, and seven seconds after that, Carl Frederik Johnsson drove the ball home from distance to put Sweden back into the lead. Kadivac sidefooted home Sweden's fifth in the 38th minute to put the result beyond doubt.

The penultimate day of the tournament kicked off with Denmark up against Greenland, and in spite of only a few dozen spectators in attendance, it was another competitive match between the two teams. Greenland raced into a two-goal lead, Kuluk Ezekiassen putting them in front after 10 minutes with Ari Hermann doubling their lead three minutes later. The Danes roared back with two goals in 5 minutes half-way through the second half; Brian Mengel Thomsen reduced the arrears in the 28th minute, and Magnus Rasmussen brought the Danes back on level terms five minutes later.

Norway recorded their first win of the tournament when they defeated Sweden 3:1 in the latter team's final match of the series; it was level pegging at the break, but second-half goals from Rune Ovesen and Wiseth secured the win to all but condemn the Swedes, runners-up last year, to fourth place in the competition.

Going into the final day of action at the Nordic Futsal Cup, Finland only needed a draw against Denmark - the only team who could catch them - to secure their third title in a row; the Danes needed a win. It seemed that Jukka Kytölä had set the Finns on their way with a goal in the second minute, but Zakaria El-Ouz levelled with four minutes left in the first half before Mads Falck Larsen put Denmark in front just shy of the half-time whistle. Kytölä's brother Mikko side-footed in the equaliser before Jarmo Junno put Finland ahead in the 32nd minute before hitting the post from the penalty-spot moments later. Confidence was restored in the Danish camp with three minutes left when Magnus Rasmussen tied things up again with a rather fine finish after a darting run from midfield. But, just seconds after conceding, Finland had the last word courtesy of Miiko Hosio, who finished off a counter-attack, stroking home a pass from Jukka Kytölä to ensure Finland did indeed register their third title in a row.

It was left to Norway and Greenland to conclude proceedings, and the 220 spectators who turned up were in for another see-saw 40 minutes of Futsal. Erlend Vie put the hosts ahead in the first minute. Frederik Funch missed a golden chance to equalise for Greenland when he side-footed wide with the goal gaping; at the other end, Erik Valla Dønnem's shot from the right-hand side struck the far post. Greenland would not be denied, though, and an unmarked, ambling John Ludvig Broberg calmly slotted home the equaliser three minutes into the second-half with the Norwegian defence static. 

Three goals followed in as many minutes midway through the sedond-half. First, Tobias Schjetne thundered home a free-kick to put the home side 2:1 up in the 29th minute, though questions must be asked about the Greenland defence as Schjetne's shot evaded the defensive wall, goalkeeper Malik Mikaelsen and a defender on the goal-line. Then, Hans Karl Berthelsen put Greenland back on level terms seconds later, finishing off a one-two with Kuluk Ezekiassen with a feint which deceived two defenders and a fine shot from the right-hand side which flashed past goalkeeper Kenneth Rakvaag. And, on the half-hour, Søren Kreutzmann started and finished off a flowing move to put the Greenlanders in front, evading the Norwegian defence by getting on the end of a pass from Malik Juhl and stroking the ball past Rakvaag. 

A win was within sight for the visitors, but a warning shot was fired across the bows when Norway's Ayoub Blomberg struck the post with a good effort from the left touchline. Time was ticking away for the Norwegians when they took off goalkeeper Rakvaag and sent on Valla Dønnem again as the fifth outfielder, and it was he who fired home the equaliser with two minutes to go, capitalising on a loose ball which had deflected off Berthelsen and putting it out of reach of Mikaelsen to make it three goals apiece.The draw was enough to put Norway into third place on four points.

There was no disputing Finland's position at the top of the pile at the end of a quite open competition, but apart from their 6:1 demolition of Sweden, there was relatively little discernible difference in standard between the five sides. It must be said, however, that the Nordic region is still something of a backwater as far as Futsal is concerned. Only Denmark have ever taken part in a major tournament, in the first Futsal world championships back in 1989, and that was only due to their accepting an invitation to compete. But, the Nordic Futsal Cup is a chance for the Nordic teams to hone their skills, and for Greenland to gain experience.

And, although they did not manage to win a game at the tournament, Greenland's performance was encouraging. Not only did they draw two of their four matches, they proved stubborn opponents and showed that they could play a bit, too. In an interview with Greenlandic newspaper Sermitsiaq, player-coach Kaassannguaq Zeeb was encouraged by the team's performance, but added that the tournament was a learning experience for his squad, many of whom were new to international Futsal. He also said that the team needs to be harder, more clinical in front of goal and to work on tactics. Still, it is good to see the standard of Futsal improving in Greenland, and hopefully FIFA and UEFA can find a way to work together with the GBU to ensure that progress continues to be made.


05/12/17 Finland 6:1 Sweden (Hosio 3, Junno 2, Autio; Zhubi)
05/12/17 Norway 0:1 Denmark (Falck Larsen)
06/12/17 Denmark 4:3 Sweden (Mojab, Hougaard, Jørgensen, Larsen; Legiec, Zhubi, Nashabat)
06/12/17 Finland 4:1 Greenland (Jyrkiäinen 2, Hosio, Istrefi; Berthelsen)
07/12/17 Norway 1:3 Finland (Blomberg; Hosio, Vanha, Jyrkiäinen)
07/12/17 Sweden 5:3 Greenland (Etéus, Delimedjac, Asp, Johnsson, Kadivar; Kreutzmann, Thorleifsen, Ezekiassen)
08/12/17 Denmark 2:2 Greenland (Mengel, Rasmussen; Fleischer, Hermann)
08/12/17 Norway 3:1 Sweden (Valla Dønnem, Ovesen, Wiseth; Etéus)
09/12/17 Finland 4:3 Denmark (Jukka Kytölä, Junno, Mikko Kytölä, Hosio; El-Ouz, Larsen, Rasmussen)
09/12/17 Norway 3:3 Greenland (Vie, Schjetne, Dønnem; Broberg, Berthelsen, Kreutzmann)



DENMARK: 1 Christopher HAAGH (GK), 2 Louis VEIS, 3 Zakaria EL-OUZ, 4 Rasmus LUCHT, 5 Mike VESTERGAARD, 6 Rasmus JOHANSSON, 7 Mads FALCK LARSEN, 8 Morten BORUM LARSEN, 9 Jim BOTHMANN HOUGAARD, 10 Kevin JØRGENSEN, 11 Brian MENGEL THOMSEN, 12 Jannick MEHLSEN, 13 Magnus RASMUSSEN, 14 Amin BENMOUMOU, 15 Emil SCOTT, 16 Nils ANDERSEN (GK), 17 Jonas SKOVENGAARD, 18 Mohamed MOJAB, 19 Adam FOGT, 22 Christian HAABRECHT (GK)

FINLAND: 1 Juha-Matti SAVOLAINEN (GK), 2 Pano AUTIO, 3 Arber ISTREFI, 4 Petri GRÖNHOLM, 5 Juhana JYRKIÄINEN, 6 Jukka KYTÖLA, 7 Jarmo JUNNO, 8 Sergei KORSONOV, 10 Miika HOSIO, 11 Iiro VANHA, 12 Antti KOIVUMÄKI (GK), 13 Jani KORPELA, 14 Antti TEITTINEN, 15 Markus RAUTIAINEN, 16 Ville UIMANIEMI, 23 Marko LAAKSONEN (GK)

GREENLAND: 1 Malik MIKAELSEN (GK), 2 Morten FLEISCHER, 3 Kuluk EZEKIASSEN, 4 Niklas THORLEIFSEN, 5 Kaassannguaq ZEEB, 6 Markus JENSEN, 7 Frederik FUNCH, 9 John Ludvig BROBERG, 11 Ari HERMANN, 12 Malik HERMARIJK (GK), 13 Malik JUHL, 14 Søren KREUTZMANN, 15 Kunuuteeraq ISAKSEN, 16 Karsten ANDERSEN, 17 Hans Karl BERTHELSEN, 18 Philip HOLMENE, 20 Nukannguaq ZEEB, 21 Amos ROSBACH

NORWAY: 1 Kenneth RAKVAAG (GK), 2 Morten RAVLO, 3 Petter HØVIK, 4 Jonas SIMONSEN, 5 Jonas WISETH, 6 Andreas FOSSLI, 7 Eirik VALLA DØNNEM, 9 Mathias DAHL ABELSEN, 10 Ayoub BLOMBERG, 11 Even KVALVÆR, 12 Erland TANGVIK (GK), 13 Kim RUNE OVESEN, 14 Erlend TJØTTA VIE, 15 Jørgen VIK, 16 Lars RØSTTINGSNES, 17 Christopher MOEN, 18 Jonathan BARLOW, 20 Tobias SCHJETNE

SWEDEN: 1 Christopher SOLBERG (GK), 2 Nicklas ASP, 3 Fehim SMALJOVIC, 4 Emilio ROSSI, 5 Frederik JOHNSON, 6 Hector MARAVILLA, 7 Mathias ETÉUS, 8 Nima KADIVAR, 9 Kristian LEGIEC, 10 Petrit ZHUBI, 11 Simon CHEKROUN, 12 Markus GERD (GK), 13 Irfan DELIMEDJAC, 14 Jihad NASHABAT, 15 Ignatius MALKI, 16 Andreas TRANQUIST, 17 Mergim BERISHA, 18 Carl LEXT, 19 Anel CORALIC, 20 Dildar CALISKAN (GK)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many thanks to Lars Stensby from the NFF (Norwegian FA) for providing many of the statistics. The NFF's website, and those of the SFF (Swedish FA) and the Suomen Palloliitto (Finnish FA) were consulted, as was Sermitsiaq and Facebook.

Monday, August 28, 2017


Luxembourg has always been regarded as one of Europe's lesser lights as far as football is concerned; up until the admission of countries such as the Faroe Islands, San Marino, Liechtenstein and Andorra to FIFA and UEFA at the end of the 1980s, the Luxembourg national side was consistently the worst-performing team in World Cup and European Championship qualification. Yet, Luxembourg, represented by the FLF (Fédération Luxembourgeoise du Football, the Luxembourg FA), along with Portugal, are the only two countries which have competed in qualification for every European Championship and World Cup tournament.

An attempt to introduce football into the country was made by a certain Henri Baclesse, a businessman residing in Hollerich, a district of Luxembourg City, in 1889. Baclesse, a member of the CGDEL fencing and gymnastics club, had gone to England on a business trip and returned with a football, which he had brought back for the benefit of the club's younger members. After an initial burst of enthusiasm from the youngsters, interest quickly faded and Baclesse's efforts were in vain. 

Some years later, at the beginning of the 20th century, football was being played in the streets of Luxembourg's second city, Esch-sur-Alzette, thanks at least in part to an English teacher at the city's technology college. Jean Roeder, a native of the tiny village of Roodt, had gone to England to study the language not long after Baclesse's return, and, after spending over a decade in England, came back home with..a football. The college's students, who were starved of physical exercise, took to the game and its popularity soon became evident on Esch's streets. Cercle Sportif Fola Esch - better known as Fola - hold the honour of being the oldest club in the country, having been founded by Roeder in 1906. The name Fola represents the club's football and lawn tennis departments which were founded together on 9 December of that year, although the lawn tennis department, together with the handball and athletics departments which were formed later, became sundered from the football side of the club in later years.


Fola's golden years were between 1917 and 1930, during which time they won the national title five times and were runners-up on four occasions; they also won the country's FA Cup twice. They moved to their current home, the Stade Émile Mayrisch (pictured above) in 1935, and then the trophies dried up. Apart from winning the Coupe de Luxembourg in 1955, the club endured a miserable period, culminating in a long period of third-level football and fended off a merger with near-neighbours Jeunesse. Fola didn't win another major honour until 2013, when they won their sixth league championship, and followed this up with a seventh title in 2015.

They had quite a successful Europa League run this season, reaching the third round for the first time in their history before being eliminated by Swedish club IFK Östersund. They also opened a small uncovered stand at the far side of the pitch, directly opposite their main stand, ahead of the campaign.

Jeunesse, or, to give the club's official name, Association Sportive La Jeunesse d'Esch, were founded in August 1907 as Jeunesse Frontière d'Esch and are Luxembourg's most successful club. They moved to their current ground, the Stade de la Frontière (or Stadion Op Der Grenz in Luxembourgish), in 1920, which is situated in Hiehl, a suburb of Esch-sur-Alzette to the south of town and just a few hundred metres from the French border - hence the name. 

The stadium (pictured above) has terracing on one side and a 1200-seater stand on the other, and is surrounded by terraced housing on all sides; your traditional nieghbourhood football ground, in other words. The Stade le la Frontière, home to a club which has won twenty-eight league titles and thirteen Coupes de Luxembourg, is surely a must-see for groundhoppers everywhere.

One ground which will shortly no longer be on any groundhopper's hit-list is the Stade Henri Jungers in Differdange. The ground, based in the town's Fousbann district, was home to AS Differdange before the club's merger with Red Boys Differdange in 2003 which created FC03 Differdange. It was used by FC03's youth team until 2012, when the new Stade Municipal opened.

The site is being redeveloped, and there was very little of the stadium left to see at the end of June, with just the ticket booths and the old stand still intact (see above). That will change, of course; a small park, youth centre, playground and a by-pass are currently being built and the project should be completed by the end of this year.

One ground which is still being used in Differdange is the Stade Thillenberg, the former home of Red Boys, which is situated at the town's western extremity. FC03 Differdange's youth teams currently use the ground - which has achieved something of an iconic status among groundhoppers - as did FC03's first team until the Stade Municipal was completed in 2012.

STADE THILLENBERG (Red Boys Differdange/FC03 Differdange)

The ground dates from around 1921, and it was apparently built by local miners in their spare time. At one time, it was the largest stadium in Luxembourg and hosted a number of international matches up to the outbreak of the Second World War. Fast forward to 2012, and the Differdange town council had originally earmarked the Stade Thillenberg for demolition, with a regional athletics stadium or tennis courts being built on the site. However, they had not reached agreement with the site's owners, Arcelor Mittal, and the matter remains unresolved.

FC03's new ground, the Stade Municipal (officially called the Stade Municipal de la Ville de Differdange), is within easy reach of Differdange's train station and Differdange town centre, but is actually in neighbouring Oberkorn. It replaced the Stade Thillenberg as the club's home base upon its completion in 2012. The ground has a capacity of 2400 spectators, and possesses a stand which can hold 1800.

STADE MUNICIPAL (FC03 Differdange/CS Oberkorn)

There is a small seating area opposite the stand, which borders the club's training pitch. The stadium forms part of the Parc des Sports complex, which, like the Stade Municipal, is council-owned. Apart from FC03, the complex is also used by local boxing, martial arts and handball clubs. Strangely enough, the handball club is none other than Red Boys Differdange, which was founded in 1939 as part of the original Red Boys' athletics section and used to train at the Stade Thillenberg.
 STADE JAMINET (Luna Oberkorn)

Also based in Oberkorn, but at the southernmost point of the village, is the Stade Jaminet (above), home of Luna Oberkorn, a club which was founded in 1932 but which has spent most of its existence in the lower regions of Luxembourg's football pyramid. They are taking part in this season's Division 2 (fourth level) along with CS Oberkorn, founded in 1930, who share the Stade Municipal with FC03.

STADE JOS HAUPERT (Progrès Niederkorn)

To the north of Differdange lies the town of Niederkorn, home of Progrès Niederkorn; yes, the same Progrès Niederkorn which knocked Glasgow Rangers out of this season's Europa League before going on to lose to AEL Limassol 3:1 on aggregate, a score which somewhat flattered the Cypriots. Progrès play their football at the Stade Jos Haupert (see above photos), at the northernmost edge of town.


A couple of miles to the east of Luxembourg's international airport at Findel lies the tiny village of Munsbach, which lends its name to fourth-level FC Munsbach, who play at the Terrain Munsbach, which is actually found in the even tinier village of Uebersyren, a few metres to the east of the boundary between the two villages (although FC Munsbach's website home page lists the ground as being in Munsbach). FC Munsbach's ground is the proverbial stone's throw away from the local train-station. The club was founded in 1946.


A few miles to the south of Luxembourg-Ville lies the picturesque village of Itzig, where Blo-Wäiss Itzig play at the Stade Albert Kongs. The club currently plays at the fourth-level of Luxembourgish football, having been relegated from the 1. Division at the end of last season. The club was founded in 1941, following on from Excelsior Itzig, which was originally founded in 1919 but had a stop-start existence until it folded in 1928. 

The ground is named after Albert Kongs, who was FLF president from 1961 until his death in 1968. Kongs was one of the founders of Blo-Wäiss, and always maintained that the club was founded as a cover for local Resistance groups during the Nazi occupation of Luxembourg. The Stade Albert Kongs was built in 1973, and the new clubhouse was contstructed in 2007.


Blo-Wäiss Itzig's ground is around a mile from that of Swift Hesperange, the Stade Alphonse Theis, which is part of the Centre Sportive Holleschberg on the outskirts of Hesperange. Swift will be spending the coming season in the Promotion d'Honneur (second level); the club have yo-yoed between the top two divisions from time to time, and won the Coupe de Luxembourg in 1990. The Stade Alphonse Theis, named after a former Luxembourgish politician, has a capacity of around 4000, and was opened in 2001. Since it opened, the ground has been the venue for a number of friendly matches involving Luxembourg, the most recent of which took place in March, when they lost 2:0 to Cape Verde.

 TERRAIN COMMUNAL (FC Mondercange)/FLF complex (Mondercange)

The FLF currently has its headquarters a mile or so outside the small town of Mondercange, and local side FC Mondercange's ground is right beside the FLF complex (the bottom photo of the three above), the Centre de Formation National. The Stade Communal has a capacity of 3300, including a small stand which can seat 254. The club has two other pitches, the Stade Communal II, which is next to the parent ground and is used for reserve and under-age matches, and the Terrain Communal (top two photos), situated next to the village's cemetery on the Rue du Limpach, which is FC Mondercange's training ground.

STADE ÉMILE BINTNER (Tricolore Gasperich)

Not far from Luxembourg's train and bus station lies the Stade Émile Bintner, nestled in the middle of the city's Gasperich district and home to fifth-tier Tricolore Gasperich. The club was founded in 1919 as Tricolore Muhlenweg, changed its name in 1925 to FC Blue Star Gasperich, and then settled on Tricolore Gasperich three years later. Two years after the club's foundation, it reached the Division Nationale, the top level of football in Luxembourg, but was relegated at the end of the season. It has never come close to reaching the top flight any time since then, but has spent most of the recent past in the lower divisions, and were relegated to the bottom tier at the end of last season.

STADE JOS NOSBAUM (US Dudelange/F91 Dudelange)

There could harldy be a bigger contrast between the fortunes of Tricolore Gasperich and F91 Dudelange, formed - as the name suggests - in 1991, after a merger of Dudelange's three football clubs, Stade, US and Alliance. F91 have won 13 national titles and 7 Coupes de Luxembourg since its formation on 26 April 1991. The club plays at the Stade Jos Nosbaum, which was previously home to US Differdange, which was founded in 1912 after - surprise, surprise - a merger between Jeunesse de la Frontière 1908 Dudelange and Minerva Deich. The stadium's capacity is a little over 2500.
The Cercle Sportif Alliance Dudelange was founded in 1916, also after a merger, between Étoile Rouge and Étoile Bleue. The club played at the Stade Amadeo Barozzi in the town's old Italian Quarter, in the shadow of the giant ARBED steel works, until its absorption into F91.

STADE ALOYSE MEYER (Stade Dudelange/F91 Dudelange)

The third club involved in the merger was Stade Dudelange, which was founded as Gallia in 1908. It changed its name to Sparta in 1912, and to Cercle des Sports le Stade in May 1913. The club was successful in its own right, winning 10 national titles and 4 Coupes de Luxembourg, with the last league championship coming in 1965. Stade played at the Stade Aloyse Meyer, which was little more than a large field containing two football pitches. Little enough has changed, though there now is a third, artificial, pitch on the premises, together with a large pavilion containing meeting-rooms, changing-rooms, a canteen and gym; the Stade Aloyse Meyer is now used by F91 as their training complex.

Luxembourg's national side plays its home matches at the Stade Josy Barthel, named after the country's only track and field Olympic gold medal winner, who won the 1500 metre gold medal at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952. Construction of the stadium commenced in 1928 and was completed three years later with a capacity of 12000. The stadium was called the Stade Municipal from its opening until 1993, when it was renamed the Stade Josy Barthel. It was razed to the ground and completely rebuilt in 1990. The ground now holds some 8000 people.

However, there may have been an earlier Stade Municipal in Luxembourg-Ville; the authoritative De Letzebuerger Fussball website lists matches taking place at a Stade Municipal in 1924. The current Stade Municipal is also used for athletics and rugby, but its days as a sports venue may well be numbered. In February 2014, plans were announced for a new national stadium for both the FLF and the Luxembourg rugby federation at Kockelscheuer, to the south of Luxembourg-Ville, which is expected to cost some €64.5 million - almost twice the original budget - and have a capacity of 9595. Work has already started on the stadium, which is expected to be completed in late 2018/early 2019. 

The Stade Municipal, meanwhile, will continue to host international football and rugby matches until then; plans were afoot to renovate the stadium, but with the coming of the stadium at Kockelscheuer, the stadium will be demolished to make way for a housing development. Will the building of the new stadium usher in better times for d'Roud Léiwen and for football in Luxembourg in general?

AUTHOR'S NOTE: The above article is part of a series of articles on football in Luxembourg, which will be rolled out over the next few months. Match reports, interviews and a couple of articles will come together under the  #ProjectLuxey umbrella.

Some of the material comes from personal archives; all photographs are author's own, and are available to use on condition that acknowledgement is made of the source and links to any articles be sent to Pat's Football Blog's Facebook page. (It's always interesting to see what others write, after all!)

Wikipedia and the FLF website were also checked as were the below websites/news stories from Luxemburger Wort:

Numerous other websites were also checked in order to verify information.

Information was also obtained from the following books:

"Gooaaallll! 100 Joer Football zu Diddeleng" (Lucien Blau & Jules Ury);

"100 Joer Fussball Déifferdeng" (Official publication FC03 Differdange); and
"100 Joer Fussball zu Lëtzebuerg - CS Fola 1906-2006" (Official publication Fola Esch)