Helsingborg Make It Ten Without Loss
Our support of Helsingborg this summer continues as we follow their progress in the second tier of the Swedish footballing pyramid.
After completing game weeks nine and ten of the season, Helsingborg remain unbeaten and sit second in the league as they continue in their bid for promotion back to Allsvenskan.
Although the season has not been as faultless as being unbeaten in nine games, sounds it is a lot better than the type of season HIF had last year. This season was always going to be about rebuilding confidence, restructuring financially and re-organising the team to get back into the top flight.
Just like in England, sometimes it is better to take a season in a lower division instead of battling bravely against relegation for a few years. Relegation gives a club the chance to take a good look at itself and make some tough decisions in order to come back stronger than before.
With any luck, Helsingborg have learnt from what happened last season and
if when they get promoted this season they will be in a position to challenge straight away for a European place which a club of it’s size should have.
In the meantime, there is the small matter of twenty-one more games following their visit to Östers IF.
Game 9: Östers IF v Helsingborgs IF
The mission for this game was clear. Go to Östers IF, which is situated in the town of Växjö, and make sure the unbeaten run was extended. That’s easier said than done when the opponent stood on the other side of the centre circle doesn’t want to respect this plan.
So far this season HIF haven’t met teams who have put up too much of a fight. In fact, at times the biggest obstacle HIF had to overcome was their own willingness to self destruct and let in late goals.
HIF started the match against fellow promotion challengers Östers IF in their usual sluggish fashion. For me, HIF are characterised by conceding the first goal and letting in late equalisers this season. True to form the match started off and resembled a contest of mismatched teams of which the home team played much better football.
Once Mattias Pavic gave Öster the lead after fourteen minutes it looked like HIF’s unbeaten run would be coming to an abrupt end. When half time arrived HIF were lucky to only be one goal down and they needed a swift kick up the backside to get back into the game.
There is the old cliche that football is ‘a game of two halves’ and this, once again, proved to be the case. HIF came out after the break and it almost seemed like it was two different teams on the pitch.
Within eight minutes of the restart Oke Akpoveta scored to cancel out Östers lead after he reacted first to a miss-hit shot by Martin Christensen. Suddenly, it was game on again at the Myresjöhus Arena.
As the match went on HIF became more and more frustrated at not being able to break down the Öster’s defence.
The mind began to wander. Would HIF concede another late goal which would result in them losing for the first time this season?
The game was two minutes into injury time when Martin Christensen picked up the ball and let rip with a screamer that found it’s way into the back of the net.
The Dane seemed more than a little delighted to have scored a late goal for HIF that made sure their unbeaten record stayed in tact and all three points went to Helsingborg.
Final Score: 1:2
Goals: 1-0 Pavic (14 min) 1-1 Akpoveta (52) 1-2 Christensen (92)
Next Up – Syrianska FC
Syrianska FC are a football club based in Södertälje, just south of Stockholm. The club were founded by Syriac Orthodox Aramean immigrants in 1977, as Suryoyo Sportklubb or simply Suryoyo SK.
In 1986 the name was changed to Syrianska SK, but later the club adopted its present name as the club grew and advanced through the league system.
The Syriac (Aramean) people do not have an official national team, and Syrianska is often viewed as its substitute. The club has a fan base from all over the world and after their promotion to Allsvenskan in 2010 they gained extensive coverage in Swedish TV sports programmes, documentaries and magazines, as well as in non-Swedish magazines.
You can read more about Syrianska FC by clicking here.
Syrianska FC are one of two football teams in Superettan which have been formed by immigrants, the other being Dalkurd FF who will be HIF’s opponents in three weeks time. More about them later.
Game 10: Helsingborgs IF v Syrianska FC
After a remarkable comeback in their game against Öster, HIF’s next match was a relatively easy game on home soil. HIF have learned the hard way that though games may look straight forward they have to fight for every point in the Superettan.
Now that it seems Brommapojkarna, Dalkurd and HIF have began to put some fresh air between themselves and the rest of the division at the top of the table, it is important not to lose focus.
We all know what it’s like. A couple of draws or a draw and a defeat then suddenly you can be six points further off top spot without realising what’s happened. Though HIF want and expect promotion this season they ultimately expect to win the title.
Winning the title would be seen as a success in anyone’s language, finishing second thus gaining automatic promotion would be seen as acceptable and promotion through the play off would be disappointing. Missing out all together would be a disaster.
An almost predictable start
HIF came into the game without injured midfielder Edwin Gyimah, which meant that there had to be at least one change to the starting eleven that took to the field against Öster.
As you may have read before, HIF are quite vulnerable in the first and last five minutes of matches. Whether it is a lack of focus at the beginning and a lack of fitness at the end which has led to HIF either having to chase the game or throw away a win at the end is difficult to say.
Against Syrianska FC it was pretty much the same story in that a goal was scored after two minutes but much to everyone’s surprise it was HIF that scored it. Unfortunately, they failed to build on their good start to the match and allowed Syrianska to get back into the game with the help of some inconsistent refereeing decisions.
Isn’t it nice to know that though football is played in different styles from country to country, referees are still able to do a good impression of the missing link between man and ape! The fact that the missing link has not yet been found is all the more remarkable when you consider that the proof is hiding in plain sight on football pitches around the world.
Sloppy play by the home side and missing some good chances to score symbolised much of play in the first half. In fact, as has become somewhat of a theme, the few goal scoring chances that were created were by the visiting side.
Just after the half hour mark the inevitable happened when Syrianska’s Mattias Mete scored an equaliser.
Going into the half time break on level terms seemed the very least that the visitor’s deserved as they had the better quality of possession while HIF seemed to be making heavy work of their possession.
But maybe HIF were lulling Syrianska into a false sense of security as once again at the start of the second half HIF managed to retain possession a lot better and were able to move the ball from defence to attack though without being able to create any clear cut chances.
With half an hour remaining there was a Surprise just outside the visitor’s penalty area in the form of HIF’s South Africa winger Bradley Ralani, who for reasons best known to himself, goes by the name of Surprise.
Surprise took the matter in his own hands. He turned two players inside-out before cutting into the middle of the pitch and unleashed an untouchable shot from about 25 yards out to make it 2-1 to the home team.
The goal meant that HIF switched to defence mode and allowed Syrianska to come forward in the hope of catching them on the counter-attack. For most of the remaining half HIF had eleven men firmly planted in their own half which is the perfect way to get the home crowd nervous and frustrated as they were capable of much more.
The home side did manage to create a few more chances without much success as they were unwilling to commit numbers forward when a counter-attack was on.
Lack of ambition or showing the opposition too much respect?
Counter-attacking football is a frustrating tactic if your team is the one playing it. I liken it to seeing your favourite boxer getting seven shades knocked out of him only for him to come out swinging every now and again in the hope of hitting the target.
It’s much like the famous Ali versus Foreman fight, which still causes me pain whenever I watch it.
Be it rope-a-dope or sitting back defending wave after wave of attack isn’t my idea of fun because at this level, Superettan and the heavyweight division, everyone has a puncher’s chance if they are allowed enough chances.
With ten minutes remaining a tactical substitution was made and HIF switched to five at the back and in doing so, against Syrianska at home, said a lot about the home team’s performance.
With the switch to a back five all interest in attacking, counter or orthadox was abandoned and the team dug in fully intent of keeping all three points.
In injury time, HIF’s striker Max Svensson disobeyed orders and scored another goal which resulted in the crowd being able to enjoy the final few seconds of the match before leaving Olympia happy that they were now unbeaten in ten games.
We all know what the end goal is but I am not so sure the means they are using to achieve it are justified or pleasurable.
Final Score: 3:1
Goals: 1-0 Samuel (2 min) 1-1 Mete (32) 2-1 Surprise (60) 3-1 Svensson (93)
A performance like the last game at home to Syrianska FC does makes you wonder what the morale is like in the HIF dressing room.
They are a team who should easily win promotion back to Allsvenskan, much like Newcastle United were odds on to get promoted from the Championship. However, they seem to be going about it much like a relegation threatened team battles for survival, by trying to get a goal and then barricading themselves in to sneak the odd counter-attack.
You can understand a relegation threatened team like Palace going to Stamford Bridge or Anfield, taking the lead and then playing with five defenders for the last twenty minutes of the match. But it would be completely beyond explanation if Chelsea or Liverpool had put everyone behind the ball after taking the lead against us.
That being said, had they done so they might not have lost against us!
- Thirty game season.
- Top two teams are promoted.
- Third placed team plays a two legged play-off match with the third from bottom team in Allsvenskan.
- Bottom two teams are relegated.
- Third and fourth from bottom teams play a two legged play-off match with 3rd placed team in Division 1 North and Division 1 South respectively.
If you would like to know more about the Swedish football pyramid, click here.
01/04/2017 – Trelleborgs FF (h) 1:0 W
09/04/2017 – Varbergs BoIS (a) 3:3 D
17/04/2017 – Gefle IF (h) 1:1 D
22/04/2017 – GAIS Göteborg (a) 0:0 D
01/05/2017 – Degerfors IF (h) 3:0 W
08/05/2017 – Atvidabergs FF (a) 1:2 W
13/05/2017 – IK Frej (h) 2:2 D
18/05/2017 – Norrby IF (h) 3:2 W
22/05/2017 – Östers IF (a) 1:2 W
27/05/2017 – Syrianska FC (h) 3:1 W
03/06/2017 – Falkenbergs FF (a)
10/06/2017 – IF Brommapojkarna (h)
17/06/2017 – Dalkurd FF (a)
24/06/2017 – IFK Värnamo (a)
—– Summer Break —–
22/07/2017 – Örgryte IS (h)
29/07/2017 – Syrianska FC (a)
05/08/2017 – Norrby IF (a)
08/08/2017 – Åtvidabergs FF (h)
12/08/2017 – IK Frej (a)
19/08/2017 – GAIS Göteborg (h)
26/08/2017 – Trelleborgs FF (a)
02/09/2017 – Dalkurd FF (h)
09/09/2017 – IF Brommapojkarna (a)
16/09/2017 – Varbergs BoIS (h)
23/09/2017 – Falkenbergs FF (h)
30/09/2017 – Gefle IF (a)
14/10/2017 – IFK Värnamo (h)
21/10/2017 – Degerfors IF (a)
28/10/2017 – Örgryte IS (a)
03/11/2017 – Östers IF (h)
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