Helsingborg beats Malmö in Super Cup. Comings and goings-GAIS, AIK, MFF. Kalmar joins ranks of money-losing teams. Big sales on tap. Trelleborg loses premier to grass. King of the one-liners?
Helsingborg beats Malmö in Super Cup It might have been a preseason game, but it was hard to tell from the way Helsingborg and Malmö went at each other March 20 in the Swedish Super Cup match that pitted Malmö, the defending league champs, against HIF, the current Swedish Cup holders.
The two teams raced up and down the pitch at Swedbank Arena at a frenzied pace and apparently traded enough insults to get Jeffrey Aubynn tossed out of the game for taking a swipe at Helsingborg striker Ardian Gashi.
HIF took an early lead in the match through Marcus Nilsson, who scored just two minutes into the game. Wilton Figueiredo tied the game 14 minutes later. The match remained deadlocked until the 82nd minute when Aubynn and Gashi got into a scrap at midfield. Gashi said something Aubynn didn’t like and the Malmo midfielder slapped Gashi in the face. Players from both sides intervened before the tussle turned into an outright brawl. Aubynn received a red card while Helsingborg got a gift by going a man up.
Erik Sundin made Malmö pay when he scored in the 90th minute to give HIF the win.
Despite the loss, Malmö striker Daniel Larsson said he believes the defending champions are just about ready to start the season.
“We have some work to do but there are still two weeks until the opener,” Larsson said. “I think we found another gear after they took the lead. It felt like we owned the game for long spells.”
Comings and goings You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.
That’s the message several Allsvenskan teams sent in the past week as clubs continue to pare down their rosters.
GAIS parted company with a pair of Icelandic players, Gudjon Baldvinsson and Gudmundur Gunnarsson. Neither player saw much time in preseason and didn’t fit into the Göteborg club’s long-term plans.
AIK said thanks but no thanks to a pair of cast-offs from the Italian Serie A. Goran Slavkovski, 21, made his debut for Inter Milan as a 17-year-old forward but since then his career has seen a steady downward spiral. He spent two weeks with AIK before the Gnaget cut him loose, saying the club simply couldn’t afford him. AIK also cut Brazilian striker Sandro, saying it didn’t want to spend money on a foreign player who would not have an immediate impact on the team.
Malmö FF got into the spirit as well, giving its Uruguayan prospect his walking papers. Sebastian Balsas “wasn’t worth the money” he wanted, the club said.
Kalmar joins ranks of money-losing teams Kalmar FF announced a record loss of 8.7 million kronor last year, putting the 2008 champions in the same financial boat as AIK, Djurgården, Malmö and Halmstad.
Club president Svante Samuelsson blamed the poor start to last year's season and the club’s absorption of a contract to Yannick Bapupa as the major reasons for the loss. Kalmar didn’t win its first game until mid-May last year and home crowds were sparse at best. In addition, Kalmar paid Bapupa two years’ salary just to get rid of the discontented African star.
Samuelsson said he believes with the opening of the club’s new stadium Guldfagel, in April, Kalmar should be back in the black in a year.
Malmö, meanwhile, continues to seek ways to knock down nearly 30 million kronor in debt, most of it associated with the construction of Swedbank Arena. Djurgården is carrying nearly 10 million kronor in debt. The red ink at Helsingborg and Halmstad is more than 5 million kronor.
Big sales on tap Both AIK and Djurgården, facing uncertain balance sheets with lots of red ink, apparently plan to sell off their biggest talents this summer, provided they get top dollar, Deutsch mark, Euro, kroner or pound.
AIK has already set the price for its Sierra Leone star Mohamed Bangura at 30 million kronor and that price might just go up if Bangura lives up to his hype in the first half of the Allsvenskan. The African isn’t particularly happy playing in Sweden and Sierra Leone national coach L-O Mattsson, a Swede, said he believes Bangura will move to Holland or France in the August transfer period.
AIK could certainly use the money. The club is more than 3 million kronor in debt—an amount that continues to grow—and a high-price sale of its top talent could put a huge dent in the deficit.
Across town, Djurgården continues to weigh offers for Prince Ekong, a Nigerian striker that teams in Germany and Holland covet. Although DIF has yet to put a price tag on its star, published reports in Sweden say the club wants 28 million kronor for him. One thing is certain: The financially strapped team would love to dump his 100,000-kronor-a-month salary.
Trelleborg loses premier to grass The 2011 Allsvenskan has yet to start but Trelleborg is already 0-1 at home.
Trelleborg had to shift its home opener April 3 from its home stadium of Vångavallen to Swedbank Arena in Malmö when the new field failed to take root at the venerable Trelleborg stadium. Groundskeepers put down a new sod field at the end of last season, but an unusually harsh and early winter froze the grass before it could fully root. When it thawed out, the pitch turned into a muddy morass interspersed with grassy patches.
On March 19 the club announced it would move the game to Malmö if its field isn’t ready in time. That decision elicited a number of nasty comments, especially from Trelleborg players, the most vocal of which has been Kristian Haynes.
Trelleborg plays Malmö in its season opener and Haynes for one doesn’t think his team should just surrender its home-field advantage. “I would much rather play this game in Helsingborg,” Haynes said. “At least it’s a neutral site.”
There is still a chance the game can go on at Vångavallen, provided groundskeepers can repair the field in time.
“In my heart of Trelleborg heats, I hope we can play at home,” said team spokeswoman Barbro Bengtsson.
King of the one-liners? Henny Youngman may be dead but Kalmar head coach Nanne Bergstrand sure does a good imitation of the Borscht-belt comedian.
Bergstrand, when asked which team he thought was going to win the 2011 Allsvenskan title, said in his best dead pan, “The one that has the most points.” Reporters may just want to avoid asking Bergstrand questions about the new Kalmar arena lest they get an answer of, “Take my stadium, please.”
by Chipp Reid, Sports Editor
Helsingborg players crowd around Erik Sundin, center, after he scored the wining goal in HIF's 2-1 win over Malmo March 20 in the Swedish Super Cup. Bildbyrån photo