Örebro crushed Elfsborg in Round 16 of the Allsvenskan, sending a message it plans to contend for the 2010 title.
By Chipp Reid
Can a 20-year-old forward lead Örebro to the promised land?
Did Paul Bunyan chop down trees and hang out with an ox named Blue?
It might seem like a lot to heap legend status on youngster Astrit Ajdarevic, but the 20-year-old prodigy is already creating a legend for himself at ÖSK. Ajdarevic has played just 38 minutes in the Allsvenskan. He has scored three times in that short span and has many in Sweden wondering why Liverpool let the boy wonder leave.
Ajdarevic moved to Sweden from war-torn Kosovo as a boy and is a naturalized Swedish citizen. He played on the Swedish Under-17 national team before accepting a spot in the famed Liverpool FC Football Academy. After three years in England, the youngster was anxious for a shot at playing time and he decided to return to Sweden. Örebro quickly snapped up the youngster and his play in just two appearances has so far electrified the Allsvenskan.
“It is clear that he is a great talent. He has, of course, shown that in black and white,” said Örebro head coach Sixten Boström. “His left foot, his shooting and passing - he is a very skilled offensive player.”
Still, Boström said he is in no rush to ride his rising star to the Lennart Johansson trophy. Instead, the Örebro manager said he wants to take his time in developing Ajdarevic and make sure the youngster turns into a complete player.
“It is very special to see him succeed as he has done so far. He is a great talent but I am also a realist and a bit boring,” Boström said. “This is a player we should advance slowly. Even though he has opened a lot of eyes and made a real splash as he has done now in two games, this is a player we want to be long-term.”
It’s not exactly the kind of talk fans want to hear. Örebro’s best-ever finish was third place back in 1994. Since the, the team has been and down between the Allsvenskan and the Superettan. In Ajdarevic, many see a player who could lead the team to its first-ever title. Boström said he didn’t think that was the case and planned to continue to use Ajdarevic as a sub, limiting his minutes as he builds up fitness.
“He is no 90-minute player yet,” Boström said. “He must understand that he still has a lot to work with. To go from square one to ten overnight, it will not work but I think he understands what is at stake.”
It doesn’t seem to matter to Ajdarevic how much he plays so long as he on the pitch. The prodigy scored twice July 26 as Örebro vaulted into third place in the standings with a 3-0 win over Elfsborg. He played just 25 minutes, giving him 38 minutes in two matches. When entered, the match was scoreless. When he left, Örebro led 2-0 and clearly had the game in the hand. His performance made even goalkeeper John Alvbåge scratch his head in amazement.
“ ‘Supersub’ Astrit comes in we are leading 2-0,” Alvbåge said. “Quite unbelievably, the guy has just played just over 38 minutes in the Championship and has scored three goals. It’s fun for the team and above all fun for Astrit that he can show the Swedish football audience that he is a good player.”
Örebro went into Round 17 of the Allsvenskan trailing league leaders Helsingborg by nine points. Although the arrival of Ajdarevic has injected new life into the team, general manager Lennart Sjögren isn’t sitting back and waiting for HIF to go on a losing streak. After losing centerback Kim Olsen to a transfer, Sjögren signed Patrick Flood, a 25-year-old Irish international from Galway United. Örebro also picked up Finnish Under-21 international defender/midfielder Denis Abdulahi.
“One player isn’t a team,” Sjögren said. “We want to strengthen the entire squad.”
The signings are a clear signal Örebro intends to compete for the title this year. Whether the new players are enough for ÖSK to make up a nine-point deficit, however, isn’t clear. What is clear is that with Ajdarevic, Örebro certainly has at least one of the tools it needs to make a run at the gold.
“Astrit has already shown some what he can and a fully trained Astrit can be even better,” Alvbåge said. “He is good player but we all know that this goal rush can not persist for all time.”
Örebro 3, Elfsborg 0 ÖREBRO – “Wunderkid” Astrit Ajdarevic scored twice to lead Örebro to a 3-0 pounding of Elfsborg July 26 at Behrm Arena. Ajdarevic, who joined Örebro from Liverpool, has three goals in just 38 minutes of playing time. The 20-year-old entered the match in the 23rd minute with the game still scoreless and when he left in the 56th minute, he had staked Örebro to a 2-0 lead. Samuel Wowoah also scored for Örebro and assisted on Ajdarevic’s second netter.
Helsingborg 3, Häcken 1 HELSINGBORG – The league leaders spotted BK Häcken before scoring three unanswered goals to claim a 3-1 win July 26 at Olympia Stadium. Mattias Östberg scored 12 minutes into the match to give Häcken a 1-0 lead. Erik Sundin scored the first his two goals in the 29th minute to tie the game and put HIF in front at the 61-minute mark. Markus Holgersson made it 3-1 when he struck in the 70th minute.
Malmö 1, AIK 0 MALMÖ – Agon Mehmeti scored the lone goal of the match as second-place Malmö earned a measure of revenge against AIK with a 1-0 win July 24 at Swedbank Arena. The Gnaget team hammered Malmö a week before in Råsunda. This time, Mehmeti’s goal in the 41st minute was all Malmö needed to cruise to the win.
Brommapojkarna 1, Mjällby 0 BROMMA – The Bromma "Boys” continued to confound Mjällby, knocking off the third-place side 1-0 July 24 at Grimsta IP. Mjallby failed to scored against Bromma July 17 and top-rated goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt made sure Mjallby against went scoreless as he notched his sixth shutout of the season. Imad Chhadeh scored the lone goal of the match seven minutes into the second half.
Djurgården 1, Kalmar 0 KALMAR – Djurgården picked up a crucial win and a dose of confidence with a 1-0 win July 25 over Kalmar at Fredriksskans. Philip Hellquist scored the lone goal of the game to lead DIF out of the Allsvenskan basement. Daniel Sjölund set up the goal as he celebrated his return from an injury layoff.
Halmstad 1, IFK Göteborg 0 HALMSTAD – Mikael Rosén picked the right time to score his first goal of the season as his tally led Halmstad to a 1-0 win July 25 over IFK Göteborg at Örjans vall. Rosén tallied in the 41st minute. The loss stopped the upward move of Göteborg, which had managed to crawl out of the relegation zone but slipped back down to 13th place with the loss.
Trelleborg 3, Gefle 1 GÄVLE – Trelleborg won back-to-back matches for the first time this season as it beat Gefle July 25 at Strömvallen. Mattias Adelstam, Andreas Drugge and Peter Abelsson all scored for Tom Prahl’s side, while Andreas Wihlborg had a pair of assists. Trelleborg moved one rung above the relegation playoff in the standings with the victory.
GAIS 1, Åtvidaberg 0 ÅTVIDABERG - Aram Khalili scored in the 71st minute to lead GAIS to a 1-0 win July 24 over Åtvidaberg at Kopparberg Stadium. Khalili, playing in his first season in Sweden, picked up his second goal of the season. The loss cemented Åtvidaberg at the bottom of the standings.
Örebro striker Astrit Ajdarevic lines up the first of his two goals July 26 against Elfsborg.