I look at that squad, and see a lot of pieces to the puzzle that will fit in quite nicely in the Veikkausliga. I think safety is very likely, at a canter even, and hopefully there's plenty of fans coming through the turnstiles too. I think the goals of the club that have been cited are realistic, and if the club is able to grow organically, rather than trying to force things via spending lavish amounts of money: long-term success is likely.
Greetings from Helsinki! I read your story completely yesterday and I respect your effort and style. It was also enjoyable to read a story concerning a small suburban club near from my surroundings.
I have to say that with players you had, in real life the promotion from Ykkönen could be considered as one of the biggest miracles in Finnish football. Lets see if you can bring more success to Heteniitty, or "Hettari" as we are used to call it here. This current squad seems to have the potential, especially Mostagh "Mosa" Yaghoubi is one of the best players in league (and slightly underrated in the FM21).
FC Viikingit went into April 2023 with Veikkausliga football to play. It was to be only the club's second season in Finland's top flight of football and there was an air of optimism among the Viikingit fans ahead of a big season for the club. The odds were stacked heavily against Viikingit to avoid relegation but the Helsinki-based club were looking to prove all the doubters wrong. Anything was possible with Kalle Koskinen at the helm.
There was one more new signing for FC Viikingit, with highly-rated midfielder Matti Klinga joining the club on a free transfer. A technically-competent midfielder, the 28 year old is expected to play a key role for Kalle Koskinen's side this season. Klinga had last played for Swedish club Östersunds before becoming a free agent, and moved to Viikingit in a return to Finnish football. He will play as a Mezzala for the most part, but can also play as a Deep Lying Playmaker, an Inside Forward or as an Advanced Playmaker (AMC) in Kalle Koskinen's 4-2-3-1 system.
FC Viikingit's return to the Finnish top flight started with an incredible 5-2 win over FC Viikingit. Kalle Koskinen's side enjoyed a rather mixed run of form in their opening eleven league games of the season, and came to the end of June with a 5-2-4 record. For a newly promoted side, and the only semi-professional team in a league full of professional teams, that was not a bad record at all.
Viikingit's incredible start to the season left in 4th place in the league at the halfway mark of the regular part of the league season. The title race was practically over - HJK had stormed to an uncatchable lead. Viikingit's goal scoring exploits had them well clear of the relegation spots and head into the second half of the regular season knowing they needed just a few more wins to secure safety in Finland's top flight, against all the odds.
Manager of the Month
Player of the Month
Team of the Month
A big set of games coming up for FC Viikingit. They knew they could secure a top half finish, and qualify for the Championship Group (and European Competition Playoffs), if they got a few results going their way. Relegation wasn't deemed too much of a threat at this stage but you never know in football.
TheLFCFan, the odds are stacked heavily against Viikingit but they have a potential to explode into life. Let's hope they can turn that potential into reality! J_ames, agreed - the growth of the club needs to be managed carefully. Can't be turning into the next Bolton Wanderers any time soon. ocki, tervetuloa! It's nice to see you're enjoying what has transpired so far and hopefully I can continue to keep things moving in the right direction! Finnish football is an untapped sector in the nation's sporting curriculum, which is odd to say considering some of the players who have come from there, and hopefully the country continues to rise through the ranks in real life (and in my save).
FC Viikingit started the Veikkausliga season like a house on fire, sitting in 4th place after the opening eleven games. They headed into the second half of the regular league season knowing they had a good chance of securing a top half finish, and qualifying for the Veikkausliga Championship Group, as well as the European Competition Playoffs for a chance of qualifying for the UEFA Europa Conference League. Could they do it?
FC Viikingit's mixed form continued. A 5-1-4 record across 10 league games between July and August was more than what was expected of the football club, and an incredible 3-0 victory over HJK was a memorable one as FC Viikingit stuck it to the top club in Finland, who are also local rivals. Viikingit's defensive nature had improved, for the most part, as they kept 4 clean sheets in the 10 games played. However, they conceded 4 goals in a game twice and still had plenty to work on in that department.
With just one game remaining in the regular part of the league season, Viikingit were guaranteed a top half place, and a spot in the Championship Group. It meant that Viikingit were certain not to be relegated this season, far surpassing any expectation set by the club's ownership at the start of the season, and would also participate in a European Competition Playoff to battle it out for qualification for the UEFA Europa Conference League. For a small, semi-professional club like FC Viikingit, the opportunity to compete for such honours was considered a minor miracle.
Manager of the Month
Player of the Month
Team of the Month
There was just one more game to be played in the regular league season for FC Viikingit, before the Championship Group and European Competition Playoffs would begin. Viikingit were hoping to give their fans one more win to rejoice before the very competitive end of the league began.
Match days had become something of an excitement for everybody involved with FC Viikingit over the last three years. The addition of Kalle Koskinen to the club had brought a buzz not previously experienced by fans of the Helsinki-based team and what had previously started as a quiet murmur of what-ifs and maybes soon became cheers of adulation and an exciting thrill. What previously seemed impossible had become a possibility that the club could achieve. It was like a light switch was flicked and a whole world had appeared from the darkness.
Koskinen's match day rituals began with a flick of a light switch adjacent to his bed. He made his way to the kitchen where he prepared a high-fibre breakfast and a cup of coffee, with a hot pot prepared for refilling. He didn't take milk in his coffee - 'milk is for p******' was what he used to say when asked about it. He liked a stronger taste, and a warmer liquid. Once he had chowed down his meal and slurped up the remainder of his coffee, he showered and relieved himself and dressed for the day. For a cold, wet day at the beginning of September, he wore faded, grey jeans and a black bomber jacket over a plaid shirt before heading to his office.
Kalle's office for the day was a set of artificial football pitches a couple of hundred metres from Viikingit's stadium. They belonged to a school but the club were allowed to use them for practice, which they used a few times per week. Kalle set up shop in an office overlooking the pitches while he awaited the players, and the rest of his coaching staff, to arrive. He had a laptop set up in front of him and he went through analysis of the day's opposition - AC Oulu. The analysis wasn't as in-depth, or as professionally prepared, as what he was used to when he was assistant manager at Manchester City, but it gave an impression of what he could expect.
The analysis reports of AC Oulu showed that Koskinen's team had a very tough game ahead of them. Oulu were a team that showed great ability in either end of the pitch. They defended well with players who were experts in last-gasp tackling and had attackers who knew how to beat defenders and score goals at an expert rate. They didn't bother with possession too much, instead favouring a more direct approach to playing. It meant that Viikingit needed to be on their toes and avoid making mistakes at all costs.
Koskinen's players and staff began to trickle into the training facilities just before 10am. They checked in with Kalle and stripped down to training gear. Matchday training only accounted for fitness / injury checks, a light warmup and some possession work. This lasted less than an hour before the players and coaches crowded into a conference room on the campus for an opposition analysis meeting. Kalle emphasised what his players should focus on throughout the game and how best to exploit Oulu's weaknesses. He stressed the importance of retaining discipline and not losing heads in the face of pressure.
The team disbanded at midday, heading in their separate directions for a few hours ahead of the game. Kalle made his way home where he tuned into English Premier League action while eating an early meal. Manchester City were hosting Leicester at the Etihad Stadium in a must-win game for new City manager Mauricio Pochettino. Guardiola had left the club in the summer just gone to enjoy a break from the game and his successor was a seasoned professional, and one Kalle had a lost of respect for. Pochettino had his side playing enthralling, high-octane attacking football and goals from Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva gave them a win to put them top of the league.
By the time the Man City game finished, it was time for Kalle to make his way to Vuosaaren urheilukenttä. He made his way to the stadium, from his home in Espoo, clockwise around the ring road that encompassed Helsinki. He arrived at the stadium two hours before kickoff where Janne Partanen, the club's owner, and a number of other workers were already in attendance, setting up and preparing for spectators to arrive. Hot dog and coffee kiosks were lit up with workers preparing goods for the soon-to-arrive football fans others walked the grounds surrounding the stadium, ensuring everything was in order.
Koskinen spoke briefly with Janne Partanen befor disappearing into the grounds through a double door opening within the main stand and into a dark corridor. He waltzed beyond doors and side-corridors before arriving at a door slightly ajar which had a notice on it reading 'Home Team'. He pushed through to an open, square space with benches where kits, shorts and socks were piled in neat bundles and a large duffel bag of physio equipment and materials lay on a central bench. A kit bag belonging to Aleksi Räihä, Kalle's assistant manager, was propped up against a wall. He always arrived early to set out cones and footballs on the pitch for the team to warm up with.
The Viikingit players arrived just over an hour before kick-off, and Kalle submitted his team sheet to the matchday officials at 17:30, an hour before kickoff. There was only one notable absence for Viikingit, as Danish winger Souheib Dhaflaoui missed out with a knee injury that had kept him sidelines for over a month. Viikingit's team was a young one, with two teenagers starting in the form of goalkeeper Verneri Malm and striker Tom Vestnes, while others were on the bench.
The players went out to warm up for thirty minutes, under the supervision of Kalle and his assistant manager, before heading back into the dressing room fifteen minutes before kickoff, to the applause of the fans who had arrived early at the ground. The players got kitted up and ready to play as Kalle walked from one of the dressing room to the other, giving last-minute instructions to individuals based on the line-up announced for AC Oulu. When all was ready, Kalle gave his customary team talk.
"We've had a great season. We know we'll be in the Championship Group and be in a position to challenge for European football, regardless of today. That being said, this is an opportunity for each and every one of you to prove you have what it takes to play for a club that wants to achieve great things in football. Whatever has happened so far this season, you will always be judged by your latest performance. I know what you guys are capable of, make sure you let everybody else know what you guys can do."
Shortly before kickoff, the referee came into ask the players to walk out onto the pitch for the game. As the players walked through the tunnel, the loud blare of rock-and-roll blasted out from the stadium's PA systems. The ground shook and heart rates rose as the Viikingit players walked out onto the pitch to the tune of 'Hard Rock Jalkapallo' - Viikingit's take on Lordi's famous Eurovision-winning song of 2006. The fan song was a testament to the football played under Kalle Koskinen, which was deemed similar to how Jürgen Klopp's teams played, and echoed throughout the stadium as the fans roared the lyrics. There was less than 500 fans in attendance that day but the sound was intimidating and awe-inspiring, warming the Viikingit players' blood with a steely determination.
The game itself ended 1-1. Viikingit had scored first through midfielder Matti Klinga, midway through the first-half, before Oulu's Florian Rrapaj scored an equaliser just before half-time. It was an exciting, end-to-end contest and both teams perhaps had their goalkeepers to thank for key saves to keep the score as it was. All-in-all, it was probably a fair result, even if it was not the one Kalle's men wanted.
FC Viikingit finished the Regular Season in 4th place. It meant a place in the Championship Group, as well as a minimum of a Playoff for European football. The league title was well out of reach but Viikingit had a serious chance of placing very highly.
Five big games for Viikingit. While their status as a top half club had already been confirmed, and relegation averted, Viikingit were aiming for bigger prizes at the business end of the season.
An incredible season with the chance of European football now on offer which would be huge for the club. It seems like the complete opposite of last season when it was the defense that really stood out, instead the team seems to be scoring for fun. Looking forward to seeing how the Champions Group goes!
You really don't believe in draws do you! A 'win or lose' type of club is an absolute rollercoaster to watch, and I'm sure that numerous fans have had heart attacks over the course of the season. A great first year in the top flight, and it shows the progress of the club that's happened [on and off the pitch] since Kalle's arrival.
'The importance of bringing through young players from your academy can not be undervalued. They embody everything that your club stands for and, in the darkest of hours, produce the brightest of lights. They were born learning about the history of the club, live in the present as fans of the club and will go on to create and establish the future of the club. They are everything' - Kalle Koskinen.
It was Kalle's third youth intake at FC Viikingit, and this one was an absolute let down. After two pretty good youth intakes, they were due a crappy one and they got one in 2023. There were some decent talents, but realistically none of the players in the youth intake were ever going to play Veikkausliga football. Of those who came through, Vesa Janhunen, Lauri Lönnqvist and Pasi Jansson were the most promising.
Vesa Janhunen was the most promising of the bunch. The young full-back from Helsinki was a very level-headed defender with good positional awareness and the ability to make the right decisions more often than not. He had a decent amount of technical ability but lacked a fair amount of pace or strength.
Lauri Lönnqvist was a versatile, naturally fit defender from Helsinki. He was an incredible decision maker and very aggressive in the tackle but lacked any real technical or athletic ability to make a sizeable impact for a top-flight club.
Pasi Jansson was the last of the standout players from the bunch. The pacey left-sided attacker was a handful for any opposition defender with his speed. A fantastic team player and an incredibly aggressive personality, he did lack ambition, however. Not good enough.
TheLFCFan, Europe is the goal! It seemed unlikely at first, but we're edging towards the right direction! J_ames, draws are boring
Kalle Koskinen's FC Viikingit had surpassed all expectations of them by securing a place in the Veikkausliga Championship Group. Nobody had expected them to stay up but their high-octane, all-or-nothing style of play saw them finish the Regular Seasion in the top half of the Veikkausliga, among the top clubs in Finland. They were in the business end of the season and, without the threat of relegation, were looking to break even more boundaries with their Marcelo Bielsa-style of play.
Sucky, sucky form encompassed Viikingit's Championship Group stage. They walked away from the Championship Group with a 0-1-4 record as they got stunned by the big teams. Viikingit were only a semi-professional team and the difference between them and the professional teams showed big time.
Despite their crappy Championship Group form, Viikingit had already qualified for the Playoffs for European football. They entered in the Quarter Final round against TPS. It took a solitary goal, from Maxime Nzeza, to push Viikingit into the Semi Finals. They faced KuPS, and KuPS absolutely dominated the game. However, Viikingit held in and a stoppage time winner from Tom Vestnes put them into the Final, where they were one team away from securing European football.
Viikingit's end-of-season league form saw them finish as low as 6th. For a team expected to finish last, this was incredible. However, they will have felt devastated not to finish higher, having stank out the place in the Championship Group stage of the league season.
HJK won the league and qualified for UEFA Champions League qualifiers. SJK, in second place, earned a spot in UEFA Europa Conference League qualifiers, as did Suomen Cup winners IFK Mariehamn. This left AC Oulu, KuPS, FC Viikingit, TPS and VPS to fight it out in a Playoff tournament for the fourth and final European spot. Viikingit had the long run at it and reached the Final, where they would face the much-fancied AC Oulu.
Manager of the Month
Player of the Month
Team of the Month
Viikingit had just two games left to turn a great season into an incredible, dream season. Viikingit were to face AC Oulu in a two-legged Playoff Final for a spot in the UEFA Europa Conference League 2024/2025 season. Oulu were surely going to come out on top - according to everybody - but Viikingit were determined to put up a good fight.
This was it for FC Viikingit and Kalle Koskinen. The objective set at the start of the season was to avoid relegation from the Veikkausliga. However, the had well surpassed that already - finishing 6th in the league and demonstrating some incredible goal scoring ability. Now they were in a two-legged playoff to compete for a spot in the UEFA Europa Conference League. Could they defy the odds yet again?
Veikkausliga European Playoff Final Leg 1
The Viikingit players were struggling for fitness in the first leg, having only trained as a semi-professional outfit, and that showed as Oulu scored twice in the first hour to give themselves an incredible away goal advantage. Yaghoubi grabbed one back for Viikingit but Jokelainen scored two more goals to ensure Oulu had scored FOUR away goals in the first leg. A Joona Jarvisto goal late one was nothing more than consolation as Oulu walked away with a two-goal lead and four away goals after the first leg, with Viikingit's squad looking completely out of fitness and in need for the season to end.
Veikkausliga European Playoff Final Leg 2
Viikingit went into the second leg knowing they'd need to score at least three goals to have any sort of chance of winning the final. Goals from Marx and Vestnes in the first half gave them hope, but Vestnes also missed from the spot which left Oulu in control of the tie.
The game sprang into life in the final eleven minutes. Oulu scored to make it 1-2 on the night (5-4 overall) before Dhaflaoui scored Viikingit's third of the game, and putting them just one goal away from what they needed. Kahkonen made it 2-3 with Oulu's second of the game in stoppage time to all-but make it certain that Oulu would win. But then the impossible happened. In the seventh minute of added time, Noah Mannerstrom Egvik scored Viikingit's fourth goal of the game to make it 6-6 on aggregate to send the game to extra time. Incredible.
Viikingit were completely bereft of energy and knew they'd need to score in extra time if they wanted to win. They pushed and harried and tackled hard - but too hard. Mantynen, who had started at left back, got himself sent off to reduce Koskinen's side to 10 men. But then stepped up Tom Vestnes. The teenage Norwegian striker hammered a first-time shot into the back of Oulu's goal to give Viikingit a 7-6 aggregate lead, and away goal advantage. Oulu pressed to respond, and scored a goal to make it 7-7 on aggregate, but it was Viikingit who dramatically won on away goals. WHAT.A.TIE.
The 2023 season was FC Viikingit's second ever season in Finland's top flight, the Veikkausliga, and the first under promising, young manager Kalle Koskinen. As the only semi-professional side in an otherwise completely professional league, the odds were stacked against them and everybody expected them to be relegated. Let's review the season.
Despite being heavily favoured for last place, Kalle Koskinen's FC Viikingit secured a 6th place finish. As well as that, there was success for Viikingit in the European Playoffs and they secured a spot in the UEFA Europa Conference League qualifiers for the 2024/2025 season, starting next summer. HJK won the league comfortably, while SJK finished second and IFK Mariehamn also qualified for Europe through winning the Suomen Cup. Finnish giants FC Inter Turku somehow got relegated, raising plenty of eyebrows.
Manager of the Season
Player of the Season
Team of the Season
Despite an admirable performance in the competition, Viikingit failed to get out of the Group Stage. IFK Mariehamn ended up winning the competition, earning a place in Europe next year.
FC Viikingit Performance
While Ville Seppä played a few games, it was teenage goalkeeper Verneri Malm who started the majority of games between the sticks for Viikingit this season. The expert shot stopper played a key role for his side as they finished in the top half and his 8 record of clean sheets didn't do his performances any justice.
The defence was shakey, at best. There was only one defender who had consistently-good performances, in the form of Danish central defender Christian Enemark. He was Viikingit's star player last season and rose to the task yet again this time out, winning tackles and headers all over the place.
None of the club's central midfielders could really hold down a regular starting position, often being rotated or substituted out for each other due to inconsistent performances. Viikingit will be hoping youngsters Niclas Haugaard and Andreé Nordling improve the consistency of their performances in future seasons.
Noah Mannerström Egvik was Viikingit's standout player in attacking midfield positions, securing 13 goal contributions across all competitions as the young Swedish attacking midfield playmaker continued to develop his skills in Helsinki. Viikingit will surely be looking to add more quality to the wide attacking midfield position in the transfer market.
The arrival of Tom Vestnes added goals. The teenage Norwegian striker featured almost every game, and bagged 17 goals across all competitions, in just 32 games. He could become an all-time great for the club, and for the league, if he continues to score similar numbers.
Off the pitch, attendances improved drastically. The total attendance across the season was 10,399 (up from 6,383 last season) and the club saw an average of 578 at their home games (up from 399 last season). While the club's income improved, the expenditure also grew significantly, largely due to increased player wages and operating expenses. Viikingit will hope European football and improved sponsorship deals will help to recover a Balance that had plummeted to an alarming negative figure.
Oh my God: what a season. To have somehow jagged European football, especially after the first leg, is such an incredible achievement. The money that it could potentially bring in to the club is massive, and should help in the development of better infrastructure and [hopefully] a move to become a full-time professional club.
There's just so much to like about what's happening at the club, and with some additions in the off-season, I've no doubt that Kalle can push the squad to do even better!
FC Viikingit's first season back in the Veikkausliga was an exceptional one, as they finished in 6th place and secured a place in the 2024/2025 UEFA Europa Conference League qualification campaign. With the club not yet in a position to turn Professional, and still remaining as the only Semi-Professional club in Finland's top flight, critics have continued to entertain the idea that Kalle Koskinen's team's time in the top flight is numbered. 2024 will be a big year for FC Viikingit to prove the doubters wrong and continue to remain in the Veikkausliga, while enjoying European football for the first time in the club's history.
It was another year to celebrate for PSG's Norwegian striker Erling Haaland as 'The Beast from the East' was named the Ballon d'Or winner for the second year in a row. Since his €128M move from Dortmund in 2022, Haaland's goal scoring exploits have seen him reach the pinnacle in world football, and he kept Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappé at bay to secure the award.
Kevin De Bruyne won the other major awards - FIFA Best Men's Player for 2023. It is the second year in a row he has won that honour, keeping Harry Kane and Erling Haaland at bay. Barcelona youngster Pedri won the FIFA Best U21 Men's Player award, while team mate Ilaix Moriba won the European Golden Ball award.
FIFA Best Men's Player
FIFA Best U21 Men's Player
FIFA FIFPro Team of the Year
European Golden Boy
FC Viikingit have organised a glut of friendlies throughout the first quarter of 2024. They will also begin their Suomen Cup campaign with group games against FC Ilves, FC Haka, HJK, FC Honka Espoo and TPS. It will be a tough group but one Viikingit might fancy they could get some results. The Veikkausliga season will start in April with a home game against VPS.
FC Viikingit continued their kit sponsorship deal with Elisa for three more seasons, but have changed their kit manufacturer. Nike will now create Viikingit's kits, and have done a decent job with the first batch. Viikingit will wear a red home kit and a blue away kit, both with a white trim.
Viikingit have a one-year European competition kit sponsorship deal with KONE. This will feature a different design for a home kit as Viikingit rake in the sponsorship money.
J_ames, a season beyond our wildest dreams! We struggled in the latter stages but pulled the rabbit out of the hat when it counted and earned an invaluable spot in European qualifiers! Signings will be important to keep the club developing.
A first season back in Finland's top flight, Veikkausliga, was an incredible one for FC Viikingit last year (2023). The club finished 6th and earned a place in UEFA Europa Conference League qualifiers (starting in July 2024). Despite the club's success, they were still a Semi-Professional club competing in a Professional league. Could they produce another solid season and avoid the drop yet again?
Eight players left the club, including two for big fees. Moshtagh Yaghoubi joined Randers FC for €93,000 while Benjamin Thurling joined IF Elfsborg for €66,000. The money into the club was not to be spent on new signings, instead used to support the overall financial structure of the club.
Seven players joined FC Viikingit, including some incredible players. Finland U21 star Toni Aho joined to add quality to midfield, having previously played for FC Ilves. Kévin Mouanga joined to strengthen central defensive options, while FC Viikingit fans were most excited about former Ajax youth player Alen Karahasanovic. The Bosnian wide attacker was considered to be an incredibly creative player who could produce big moments for the club.
Player profiles to follow in the next update.
Viikingit's Suomen Cup campaign started quite well. Back-to-back 4-2 wins over FC Ilves and FC Haka set them on their way before a respectable draw away to HJK. A loss to FC Honka Espoo brought the team back to earth before a draw against TPS rounded up the Suomen Cup group action.
A 2-2-1 record in the group stage was enough for Viikingit to finish 2nd in their group. It meant qualification for the knockout rounds of the tournament, a stark improvement on last season's performance.
FC Viikingit's Veikkausliga season begins with a home game against VPS at the start of April. Koskinen's team will play 12 league games by the end of June, and will also play a Second Round Suomen Cup fixture against KTP at the end of April. Viikingit will be favourites for the cup game.