AIRLINK 81.10 Increased By ▲ 2.55 (3.25%)
BOP 4.82 Increased By ▲ 0.05 (1.05%)
CNERGY 4.09 Decreased By ▼ -0.07 (-1.68%)
DFML 37.98 Decreased By ▼ -1.31 (-3.33%)
DGKC 93.00 Decreased By ▼ -2.65 (-2.77%)
FCCL 23.84 Decreased By ▼ -0.32 (-1.32%)
FFBL 32.00 Decreased By ▼ -0.77 (-2.35%)
FFL 9.24 Decreased By ▼ -0.13 (-1.39%)
GGL 10.06 Decreased By ▼ -0.09 (-0.89%)
HASCOL 6.65 Increased By ▲ 0.11 (1.68%)
HBL 113.00 Increased By ▲ 3.50 (3.2%)
HUBC 145.70 Increased By ▲ 0.69 (0.48%)
HUMNL 10.54 Decreased By ▼ -0.19 (-1.77%)
KEL 4.62 Decreased By ▼ -0.11 (-2.33%)
KOSM 4.12 Decreased By ▼ -0.14 (-3.29%)
MLCF 38.25 Decreased By ▼ -1.15 (-2.92%)
OGDC 131.70 Increased By ▲ 2.45 (1.9%)
PAEL 24.89 Decreased By ▼ -0.98 (-3.79%)
PIBTL 6.25 Decreased By ▼ -0.09 (-1.42%)
PPL 120.00 Decreased By ▼ -2.70 (-2.2%)
PRL 23.90 Decreased By ▼ -0.45 (-1.85%)
PTC 12.10 Decreased By ▼ -0.89 (-6.85%)
SEARL 59.95 Decreased By ▼ -1.23 (-2.01%)
SNGP 65.50 Increased By ▲ 0.30 (0.46%)
SSGC 10.15 Increased By ▲ 0.26 (2.63%)
TELE 7.85 Decreased By ▼ -0.01 (-0.13%)
TPLP 9.87 Increased By ▲ 0.02 (0.2%)
TRG 64.45 Decreased By ▼ -0.05 (-0.08%)
UNITY 26.90 Decreased By ▼ -0.09 (-0.33%)
WTL 1.33 Increased By ▲ 0.01 (0.76%)
BR100 8,052 Increased By 75.9 (0.95%)
BR30 25,581 Decreased By -21.4 (-0.08%)
KSE100 76,707 Increased By 498.6 (0.65%)
KSE30 24,698 Increased By 260.2 (1.06%)

Finland hope for a 'Pukki party' at Euro debut

  • Laid low at the start of May by a torn ankle ligament, Pukki said he is "really confident" he will be back on form in time for the Euro.
Published June 2, 2021

HELSINKI: When Finland's players step onto the pitch at their first ever European Championship, the Nordic nation's hopes will be pinned on star striker Teemu Pukki repeating his recent goalscoring success.

Pukki's 10 goals in qualifying propelled Finland to their first major tournament, while his attacking prowess this season was key as Norwich City secured promotion back to the English Premier League.

"Of course, Pukki plays a huge role in our squad," Finland manager Markku Kanerva said last week, adding that the side has "waited decades" to qualify for the finals of a major championship.

In a country of 5.5 million where ice hockey reigns supreme, Finland's Euro debut has caused the popularity of football to skyrocket, with Pukki as the sport's new figurehead.

Celebratory "Pukki parties" erupted after the team qualified, while cans of "Norwich City craft beer" now line Finnish supermarket shelves, bearing Pukki's face on the yellow label.

"But I'm always emphasising the team effort," Kanerva is quick to add. "He'll need the other players to help him score goals."

For that, Kanerva will be able to call on the likes of midfielder Glen Kamara, formerly of Arsenal and now of Rangers, and Bundesliga-based Joel Pohjanpalo, as well as Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky.

New talents Marcus Forss of Brentford and Pafos' Onni Valakari also made the squad.

The 21-year-olds both scored on their international debut last November, inflicting a shock 2-0 defeat on world champions France.

"We'll have to defend very well against the top teams, that's for sure," Kanerva said, adding that Finland's unity and level-headedness are among their strengths.

Icelandic inspiration

The "Eagle Owls", 54th in the FIFA rankings, will face Denmark, Russia and world number one Belgium in the group stage.

"We're the underdogs in this tournament but I think that's something we like to be, it gives us power to show that we can really compete at that level," Pukki told a press conference in Helsinki last week.

The team will be looking for inspiration from Iceland, whose remarkable success during the last European Championship in France saw them knock out England on their way to the quarter-finals, roared on by huge support and their "Viking Thunder Clap".

Kanerva admitted that he recently invited Iceland's then manager, Lars Lagerback, to share with his squad the secrets of "the Icelandic miracle".

With vastly reduced crowds this time round due to Covid-19, however, only a fraction of the 30,000 Finnish fans who originally bought tickets to Euro 2020 are expected to be able to attend.

Late bloomer

At 31, Teemu Pukki was something of a late bloomer: his career began in 2006 but his knack for notching up goals only truly came to light once he signed for Danish side Brondby in 2014.

He moved to Norwich on a free transfer in 2018, promptly scoring 29 times in his first season.

Laid low at the start of May by a torn ankle ligament, Pukki said he is "really confident" he will be back on form in time for the Euro.

With a tally of 30 goals for Finland, he is now just two short of the country's all-time top goalscorer Jari Litmanen, who helped Ajax to Champions League success in 1995.

Revered as the best Finnish footballer ever, Litmanen is still affectionately known as "the King".

But as the Euro gets underway, Finnish fans will be willing Pukki to steal the king's crown.


Comments are closed.