Alexander Gerndt finally agreed to a transfer, Malmo learns who it will play in the next round of the Champions League and Elfsborg is hopping mad over allegations two of its players are racist.
Gerndt agrees to Utrecht deal
The saga is over. Helsingborg striker Alexander Gerndt agreed to terms with FC Utrecht in the Dutch Eiriedivisie in a club-record 35-million kronor ($5.7 million) deal. The 20-year-old striker was the target of intense interest from FC Copenhagen in Denmark, FC Brugge and FC Anderlecht in Belgium as well as Utrecht and AZ Alkmaar in Holland. Copenhagen appeared to be the front-runner after it tendered a 20-million kronor offer for Gerndt that included the free transfer of on-loan defender Peter Larsson. Helsingborg turned down the offer when it became apparent other clubs were about to enter the bidding. Alkmaar reportedly offered 27 million kronor before Utrecht made its bid.
The hoopla surrounding what most experts said would be the big transfer of the season in Sweden had an effect on Gerndt, who clashed several times with club officials over his work ethic. His goal production was down – just seven goals in 18 matches – after scoring 20 in 28 matches last year.
Gerndt agreed to terms on July 18 and joined the Utrecht team July 27 just in time to serve a one-game suspension. The striker earned a red card in the Skåne derby after he elbowed a Malmö player in the head. The Disciplinary Committee of the Svenska Fotbollsförbundet contacted the Dutch FA to make sure Gerndt served the suspension.
Malmö to face Zagreb in Champions League
Malmö FF caught a tough opponent when the draw for the playoff of the UEFA Champions League took place Aug. 4 in Geneva, Switzerland. Malmö faces Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb in the playoff round, starting with the first leg Aug. 16 in Zagreb and the return leg Aug. 24 at Swedbank Arena. Malmö was one of 10 teams to advance to the playoffs through the qualifiers. Another 10 teams entered the fray because of their finish last season in the larger leagues in Europe or because of previous success in European competitions. Among those teams are English giants Arsenal, and former Champions League title holders Bayern Munich of Germany and FC Villareal of Spain.
The 10 playoff round winners join 22 automatic qualifiers for the Champions League group stage.
Zagreb is one of the toughest of the 10 teams that reached the playoffs, along with Danish champions FC Copenhagen. Malmö manager Rikard Norling hinted he wanted a shot at Copenhagen, which former MFF boss Roland Nilsson now coaches. Several players said they wanted to face Cypriot league winners APOEL – on paper the weakest team still in the competition.
Zagreb has played in the group stage of both the Europa League and the Champions League in the past three seasons. Despite its experience, Zagreb manager Krunoslav Jurcic said he thinks Malmö is a tough opponent for his team.
“Malmö knocked out Rangers so they must be tough to beat. Their advantage is that they are a club from northern Europe and their season started some time ago, so they are in good shape,” Jurcic said. “That means they will be strong and they also have quality players. I believe in my team but at this moment I can't say we are favorites because I haven't seen enough of Malmö.”
Malmö midfielder Jiloan Hamad was confident of success.
“The draw doesn't terrify me. We still have a great chance of reaching our dream,” he said. “When we're this close we'll fight and run until we drop – we'll do everything to get through. Reaching the Champions League could be a memory for life. It's a boyhood dream.”
Omotoyossi joins Syrianska
After flopping miserably in his return to Swedish football, striker Razak Omotoyossi thought a change might do him good. The African striker, who led the Allsvenskan in scoring when he played for Helsingborg, moved to Syrianska after GAIS cut the big forward after just 15 matches. GAIS expected Omotoyossi to form a deadly attack force with Alvaro Santos and Wanderson so Carmo, but he never meshed with his Brazilian teammates.
Syrianska has had problems all season with scoring. The team is currently mired at the bottom of the standings. Team president Andrew Terniz said he believes Omotoyossi is just the tonic his side needs.
“When he joined GAIS, he was not in shape physically, but we have followed him all the time and the final few matches, he has found his form,” Terniz said. “I feel no doubt at all. It feels like we found the right guy. I think his style fits better here than at GAIS, too. “
Poor season costs Halmstad off field
Just when it looked as though nothing could get worse for Halmstad, it has.
Mired in dead last place with just two wins this season, Halmstad had plans of building a new stadium to replace its aging Örjans vall facility. However, with the Superettan looming and crowds numbering in the hundreds, the city council told the club Aug. 4 it would not contribute any funds to the 200 million kronor ($35 million) project.
On Aug. 5, the club announced it would postpone the project indefinitely.
“We have other priorities,” said club chairman Göran Johansson. “It just isn’t something that’s in our immediate future.”
The decision marks a major u-turn for the club, which expected its Spanish experiment and a new stadium to help return Halmstad to the top of Swedish football. Halmstad brought in a Spanish coach and five Spanish players, but the move turned out to be a disaster as club won just once under former manager Pep Clotet Ruiz. Things haven’t gone much better under Jens Gustavsson and the board believes it must spend money elsewhere.
“Right now we are focused simply on remaining in the Allsvenskan,” Johansson said.
Elfsborg lashes out at AIK over alleged threats
Officials at Elfsborg are hopping mad over claims from AIK striker Ibrahim Teteh Bangura that either Andreas Augustsson or James Keene hurled racial insults at the African during Elfsborg’s1-0 win at Råsunda Stadium on July 31.
Bangura first claimed Augustsson used a racial epithet against him, then later claimed it was Keene. When Elfsborg team captain Anders Svensson tried to get to the bottom of the allegations, he found himself the target of threats. Svensson told Borås Tidning that unidentified people have called his home telephone and sent him text messages demanding Svensson reveal who said what to Bangura or “it would go bad” for his family.
The threats shook Svensson, who reported them to the club and to Elfsborg police.
“I was shocked when I heard it,” Svensson said. ”It's one thing when the threats are directed against me, I have been through it several times, but when they bring up my wife and our children - then they have gone far over the limit. Then I get worried.”
Augustsson has demanded an apology from both Bangura and AIK as he angrily denied insulting Bangura. Elfsborg chairman Bo Johansson launched an internal investigation of the allegations and said he is satisfied neither player “insulted Bangura because of his skin color.”
Johansson said he also wants an apology from AIK and Bangura, especially for the allegations against Augustsson.
“It is a grave accusation to accuse someone of racism,” Johansson said. “If it turns out not to be true, that must be made public, too, or else it follows someone for life.”