After some delay to the start due to the still ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has plagued the world since last year, the Veikkausliiga finally kicked off behind closed doors in the beginning of May.
First up for HIFK was FC Haka. Now, in classic Monthly Update fashion, we’ve already covered that match in last month’s update, but in case you didn’t read that one: HIFK won by 2-0 through Keaton Isaksson and Juanan Entrena.
Later the same the week, HIFK played against SJK in Seinäjoki. It was a familiar place for a lot of HIFK players. Matej Hradecky, Keaton Isaksson, Aatu Kujanpää and now head coach Joaquín Gómez had all moved to HIFK from SJK. And of course Jeremiah Streng, who is currently on loan from SJK. In the six times that HIFK had faced SJK in Seinäjoki, it had only gotten one point. Joaquín Gómez was determined to change this trend.
As could have been expected from two teams with very similar playing stiles, it started out a bit careful. But as the match progressed HIFK started taking more and more control of the match. But it would take until the 75th match minute until the first goal. Juanan Entrena gave a brilliant free kick that found Aldayr Hernández’ head. The defender scored twice in the Veikkausliiga last year and he once again proved that he is not only a skilled defensive player but can also make a difference in the offense.
During the goal celebrations, midfielder Moshtagh Yaghoubi was given a second yellow card. The red card changed the match and SJK scored only four minutes after HIFK. Towards the end of the match SJK were really pushing the 10-man HIFK squad, but thankfully HIFK were able to get at least one point.
HIFK’s Sakari Mattila commented that he thought that HIFK “have to be happy about getting an away point when you’re one man down. SJK is after all a very tough opponent to face at home”. He continued saying that “once again this fixture saw a red card. We made it tougher for ourselves. There were a lot of emotions running high in this match, and that might have cost us the win. But tomorrow this draw will feel better”.
The following week HIFK faced Ilves at home. Jukka Halme and Hannu Patronen were back from suspensions. Ilves initially took charge of the match, but HIFK took more and more control and managed to score an early goal to set the tone of the match. American Macario Hing-Glover got the ball on the right-hand side, dribbled his way past two defenders and passed the ball into the pocket towards Jukka Halme. With his first touch, Halme lobbed the ball in front of goal where Sakari Tukiainen waited. “Tuksu” put his head on the ball and scored his first goal of the season.
In the 58th minute, Ilves scored and leveled the match. Markus Uusitalo only managed to get half a save on a freekick and Ilves defender Tatu Miettunen was able to get on the rebound ball in behind Uusitalo.
Joaquín Gómez was disappointed with the result and felt that HIFK deserved more, commenting: “My immediate reaction is disappointment. The first half wasn’t what we wanted. We weren’t careful with the ball, and I think we were a bit lucky to be leading 1-0. We made some changes during half-time and we were able to control the match better. We should’ve been able to keep the lead until the end and we should’ve been able to create more chances”.
A week later HIFK travelled to Oulu, to meet newcomers AC Oulu at Raatin stadion. Oulu had been struggling to get even their first point, but it was clear from the beginning that this would be no easy match for HIFK.
HIFK took the lead after roughly half an hour, when Moshtagh Yaghoubi scored from the penalty spot. The lead only lasted a few minutes, as Niklas Jokelainen scored and made it level once again.
The final goal came in the 67th minute. Wingback Macario Hing-Glover outplayed two defenders and charged towards a fully packed box. Instead of sending it in to the crowd in front of the goal, he played it long towards wing-back Pipe Sáez. Sáez took down the ball with his chest and then hit a perfect volley. The ball rocketed towards goal, hit the crossbar and ended up inside of the goal. 1-2 for HIFK and three points secured.
The final match of May was against FC Inter. HIFK took the lead after 24 minutes, when Moshtagh Yaghoubi scored from the penalty spot once again. But the lead was even shorter this time, as it only took some 40 seconds for Taiki Kagayama to level the match. FC Inter took the lead just before the half time break, once again through Kagayama.
HIFK had been playing well the whole match and in the last minutes of the match HIFK took a risk and swapped out centre-back Aldayr Hernández for the offensive player Mosawer Ahadi, in an attempt to get atleast one point out of the match. This time the trick didn’t work, and FC Inter scored in the 88th and 92nd minute to make it 1-4 to FC Inter.
– I feel a bit stupid saying this, but I think we were outstanding. When you lose 4-1, at home, it’s difficult to hear. But I feel it is the truth. I feel for the players. The effort they put in… I think they should get more out of the game. We play well, but when you’re playing against one of the best teams in the country, this can happen, said Gómez.
– I think we were able to create chances and problems for them, mut we also made some mistakes. But I’m proud of the players. At the end, we were determined to do everything we can to get a win. We’ve said that if we lose because were bold, then that’s something we have to accept. But we should always be brave and bold.
HIFK have now had a short break from matches, but will continue on Thursday, as HIFK travel to Kotka to face KTP.
In other club news, HIFK has begun a new share issue. The main focus of this emission is to issue shares to the group of new domestic investors that agreed to buy shares in HIFK earlier in the year to become new owners of HIFK. Per CEO Christoffer Perret the group of investors are a “small group of supporters and HIFK-minded investors”.
The governments and regional authorities uneven opening of the society has also caused some debate. As of right now, restaurant can use 50-75% of its complete capacity and 100% capacity for outdoor terraces. Sporting events were capped at 6 spectators for HIFK’s match against Ilves and at 10 spectators for the match against FC Inter. As of June, HIFK could take in 50 people per specifically marked section. The current restrictions are in place until atleast the end of the month.