This weekend it was the annual UEFA Cup qualifiers for all the European champions in Europe, except for best countries who are qualified directly to the next stage. Sweden has failed in every previous qualifier and did this time as well. Our new Champions Malmö City Football Club went to Sarajevo and got a lesson i futsal, like all of our previous champions have done.
This was not the first time we got humiliated by more skilled and most of all – teams with real tactic. Speaking to our coaches when they come home they always has the same excuse: they were better tactical but now we have learnt the lesson. The problem is, are we learning if we repeat this behavior year after year?
To answer the question you need to understand the format of the cup. The UEFA Futsal Cup comprises three group stages and a four-team final tournament.
In order to get here you need to be the champion of your country. Depending on the number of entrants, the lower-ranked nations (like Sweden) are drawn into three or four-team mini-tournaments played in August. Each mini-tournament is staged by one of the clubs and each team plays each other once with the group winners progressing. This round is played in August where we Swedes have very hard to come with our best players as they often play top-league football and prioritize this.
The preliminary round winners join all but the four highest-ranked entrants excused the previous stage. They are drawn into six groups of four, staged as one-venue mini-tournaments, with the top two teams going through. Main round is played in October.
The 12 teams progressing from the main round join the four top seeds and are drawn into four groups of four teams. The winners of the one-venue mini-tournaments in late autumn, progress to the finals. Elite round is played in February.
The four-team finals are held over a weekend in late April and hosted by one of the qualifiers. The tournament is played as a knockout with the semi-finals followed two days later by the final and third-place play-off. If the third-place match is level after 40 minutes it goes straight to penalties, in the other games ten minutes of extra time will be played.
The preliminary round is where we in Sweden start due to our recurrent failures and our low rank. Rankings are drawn up on the basis of a combination of half the respective national association’s coefficient for the last three seasons inclusive and the clubs individual performances in the UEFA Futsal Cup during the same period. Se page 52 here for how to count the ranking.
Sweden history in UEFA cup speaks for itself and with this performance we are cemented in the bottom of the European ranking with only 0,4 in coefficient previous this year.
- 2008 Skövde 5 scored, 40 conceded, 0 points
- 2009 Skövde 6,30,0
- 2010 Vimmerby 9,40,0
- 2011 Falcao 8,20,0
- 2012 Ibra 13,12,3
- 2013 Göteborg 10,12,3
- 2014 Malmö 5,21,1
So the winners of 2015 Swedish Championship will get the points from Ibra, Göteborg and Malmö and be back in the preliminary round next year with a new team and a new coach that will come home again and have learnt the same lesson as the other teams did, an so it goes on.
This is the catch 22 of Swedish international club futsal. We are not learning. The experience we get stays within the clubs and the coaches, not collaborating with others in the name of development. We are kings in our own backyards and think we know it all by watching Eurosport once a year.
Talking to the experienced foreign futsalcoaches they say we are impressing on the individual level with good skills and when we challenge our opponents with speed we are really effective but when we apply the backyard tactics from home we are very easy to outmaneuver with basic futsal tactic.
I went to Iran 2006 and played versus the Iranian National team and learnt a lot as well but since then i try to teach the game and preach the essence of movement, speed and tactics to other coaches and players. But in Sweden we fear that if we share our knowledge, our domestic competitors will be better than us – so we don’t collaborate. As long we are the backyard kings we are satisfied.
Denmark is on the same page as us and got kicked out as well, still not learning. FS Ilves from Finland conceded a goal 2 seconds from the end and came up second, not qualifying for the next stage and have to go through this qualifier once again next year. Vegakamratene from Norway has a coefficient on 5,5 and start this year with the first round, learning and adapting, learning and adapting.
Vegakamratene and Ilves are the shining exception in Nordics how to learn and adapt. It will take us long to get there as long as the Swedish coaches play in their own backyard, executing kamikaze tactics abroad. Meanwhile we must get help. Help from abroad with real coaches that know the game. I have said it before and say it again. Take help! If my team became the Swedish champions i would immediately prepare for the UEFA cup with the following actions.
- Participate in the Nordic Championships and get match training a couple of weeks before the cup.
- Engage a real futsalcoach from abroad. Maybe only use Vegakamratene or Ilves coaches as mentors if the finances are a problem?
- Make sure the players focused 100% on futsal and not played any football.
- Make sure the Swedish FA supports with knowledge on preparations and administration.
- Engage with the coach and team who failed previously. What did they learn?
- Start lobbying for another format of the cup that makes us play futsal when our season not has started yet.
- Engage media to cover the journey from the backyard to the big UEFA cup arenas
ps. I have asked MCFC for a comment but they can just comment below when they are home again.