Welcome to FIFA.com Information – Kanerva: Finland’s qualification a dream for generations – FIFA.com

Welcome to FIFA.com News - Kanerva: Finland's qualification a dream for generations 
 - FIFA.com

  • Finland certified for UEFA EURO 2020 – their first main match
  • Markku Kanerva the coach chargeable for their historic success
  • Kanerva spoke to FIFA.com about their achievements and future challenges

For Finland, it was 33rd time fortunate.

On 15 November 2019, in the end – and after 32 failed qualifying campaigns unfold throughout 9 many years – the Huuhkajat (Eagle Owls) lastly reached a serious match.

It had been a very long time coming, and never everybody believed the day would arrive. “I’ve had so many individuals through the years, together with tons right here in Finland, telling me we might by no means qualify,” stated Markku Kanerva, the crew’s coach.

However regardless of the doubts and despair of the demoralising many years that got here earlier than, and the envious glances in direction of their Nordic neighbours, the Finns have lastly made it. And the euphoria at reaching UEFA EURO 2020 proved well worth the wait.

Kanerva is the architect of this breakthrough success, having led his crew to a second-placed end of their preliminary part – forward of each Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The 55-year-old is a low-profile and, exterior of Finland, little-known history-maker.

A former faculty trainer and worldwide defender, he has been a part of the nationwide teaching employees for over a decade-and-a-half, throughout which period he has acted as No2 and coached the U-21s. Within the latter function, he even gave a glimpse of his abilities – and of the long run – by guiding the Finns to the European finals.

However it’s only since his ascension to the function of senior head coach in December 2016 that Kanerva has develop into a family identify and, latterly, a hero in his homeland. With the mud having now settled on qualification and that first main match now glistening on the horizon, he spoke to us concerning the secrets and techniques to his success and the challenges that lie forward.

FIFA.com: Mr Kanerva, are you able to please clarify to the surface world what qualification has meant to Finland?

This has been a dream for generations of Finns. The soccer individuals right here tried to maintain believing by the powerful occasions and the hope for us all was at all times, ‘I hope we are able to do it in my lifetime’. So to lastly do it, properly, you may think about how a lot it has meant to us. For anybody on this nation who has performed, supported or coached within the sport, it was simply an incredible, implausible second. We’re all so proud and pleased, and it has actually introduced the Finnish individuals nearer collectively. We all know what sporting success looks like right here, after all – we have now been world champions within the likes of ice hockey, for instance. However in soccer, there was a protracted wait to attain one thing like this and, due to that, individuals went completely loopy when it occurred.

Did you’re feeling there was a psychological barrier to beat initially, given Finland’s file of by no means having certified for a serious match?

Previously we’d been near qualifying a few occasions – in Roy Hodgson’s time, for instance. That was through the so-called ‘golden technology’ period, with Jari Litmanen, Sami Hyypia and others enjoying. Once we didn’t make it with that crew, there was a sense amongst some individuals, ‘Effectively, we’re by no means going to qualify’. That feeling really elevated after I took the job, as a result of a number of key gamers retired from the nationwide crew round that point. However I noticed in that a possibility to carry by some younger gamers and create a brand new crew. And amongst these gamers, I by no means felt there was a psychological barrier. They noticed themselves as having all the pieces to achieve and have been very keen to attain one thing particular.

Soccer hasn’t at all times been seen because the primary sport in Finland. Has this given its recognition a serious enhance?

Effectively, when it comes to participation, soccer is already our primary sport. It’s true, although, that among the many normal public, media and spectators, the likes of ice hockey has at all times been extra in style. My large hope is that this helps soccer develop into the primary sport in all respects. It gained’t occur in a single day. However this has given us an enormous enhance and it has actually impressed everybody working in soccer – particularly kids. We simply have to make it possible for we use this chance to assist the sport develop in Finland, and that doesn’t simply imply the boys’s senior crew – it goes for girls and youngsters’ soccer too.

What do you see as the important thing elements in your crew’s success?

I believe the massive factor, past having good gamers, is crew spirit. At any time when Finland has been profitable in any sport – be that ice hockey, volleyball, basketball or soccer – spirit has been a key issue. We’ve got additionally defended extraordinarily properly and have an ideal goalkeeper in Lukas Hradecky. Retaining a clear sheet in six of our ten video games tells its personal story in that respect. And we’ve been lucky too that we’ve had some very efficient attacking gamers, with Teemu Pukki clearly scoring ten objectives. However that spirit is the factor I’d like to stress most of all. If we preserve that and hold the identical mentality, I imagine we are able to proceed to achieve success.

For individuals who do not know you, what sort of coach are you and the way have you ever approached the job of main the nationwide crew?

To start with, I attempt to encompass myself with good employees members. It’s so essential that you’ve got the sort of people that cannot solely do their job, however be a part of a wider crew and assist construct the spirit that’s so essential to us. As for my type of teaching, I’d describe myself as fairly old-school, but in addition very player-oriented. I work quite a bit on particulars and I like to check particular person gamers intently and get suggestions from them, hear their concepts and talk about how we are able to get probably the most out of them. Opinions in my squad are at all times welcome as a result of, for me, coaches exist to help their gamers. An enormous a part of my teaching philosophy is to create a optimistic environment the place each participant feels an actual sense of belonging to crew. For me, that’s the easiest way of getting the gamers to carry all the pieces they’ve for the crew.

You’ve been a part of the nationwide teaching set-up for a few years and performed for the nationwide crew beforehand. How essential has all that have been in making ready you for the job you’ve now?

Massively essential. I performed 59 occasions for my nation and I realized throughout that point the necessities of a nationwide crew participant, and what works properly on this setting. The teaching I’ve achieved within the affiliation has been been important too as a result of I had an current reference to the gamers, having coached virtually all of them at U-21s or with the nationwide crew once I was assistant. These relationships gave me a very good head-start and meant the gamers felt snug chatting with me – and vice-versa – from day one. I believe it’s essential in teaching typically to create that sort of sturdy connection. If you happen to don’t have it and the gamers don’t totally belief you, it doesn’t matter what you say – the message gained’t get by.

Markku Kanerva, Head Coach of Finland, Age Hareide, Head Coach of Denmark, Stanislav Cherchesov, Head Coach of Russia and Roberto Martinez, Head Coach of Belgium pose for a photo with the The Henri Delaunay Trophy after the UEFA Euro 2020 Final Draw Ceremony.

© Getty Photographs

What did you make of the EURO draw? How do you’re feeling your crew matches up in opposition to the kinds of Belgium, Denmark and Russia?

Effectively, you’ve the primary ranked crew on the planet and two different sides that made the latter phases of the final World Cup, so it’s a really powerful group. However we have now shocked many individuals already and I imagine we are able to shock these groups too. We simply have to play at our prime stage and hope that every one of our key gamers keep match between now and the summer time. We additionally should look to manage video games, and that doesn’t at all times imply controlling possession. Russia are the proper instance of that, in truth. They not often dominated the ball on the World Cup, however they have been in management and at all times very efficient on the counter-attack. That may be an instance for us.

Lastly, how essential is it to Finland to maintain what you’ve achieved and observe up qualifying for a primary EURO by reaching a primary FIFA World Cup?

That’s the last word dream, after all. Nevertheless it’s very, very powerful. The EURO has 24 locations, whereas the World Cup had simply 13 for European groups, so that you’re slicing the numbers virtually in half. But when we get pleasure from a superb EURO and are available out of that properly ready for the World Cup qualifiers, who is aware of? As I say, this crew retains on shocking individuals.

Finland coach Markku Kanerva celebrates qualifying for UEFA EURO 2020.

© imago photographs

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