Image Credit- ghanasoccernet.com
In recent years, many smaller teams have risen up the international football ladder. Costa Rica impressed in the 2014 World Cup, beating Luis Suarez led Uruguay 3-1, and maintaining a 0-0 draw with England before reaching the World Cup quarter final that year.
Moreover, Iceland have shown the determinism of the underdog can work wonders, they reached their first ever major tournament in 2016 after an impressive qualifying campaign and managed to knock out England by beating them 2-1 to reach a quarter final.
Can Finland follow in the footsteps of these small, yet competent sides?
Finland’s rise to clinching their first ever qualification is seen in the 2000’s, when they rose up to 33rd in the FIFA World Rankings in 2007. They did fall back down, but Finland has impressed in recent years.
On the 15th of November 2019, Finland did the unthinkable and managed to qualify as runners up to an impressive footballing nation in Italy, beating Lichtenstein 3-0. Norwich City star Teemu Pukki netted 2 in the convincing victory, earning him an impressive 10 goals in the entire qualifying campaign itself.
With winter sports seen as more of a priority in Finland, this recent success for the national side might ignite some excitement back into football in the Nordic nation.
Even the Finnish Prime Minister congratulated such an effort, citing his joy at seeing the Nordic nation being put on the map in the forthcoming 2020 Euro’s. This joy was shared by the Finnish manager, Markku Kanerva, who made sure the plaudits were firmly on the players and stating how immensely proud he was of the minnows for defying the odds.
After many years in the football wilderness, it will be interesting to see how the Finland National team acclimatise to the pressures of a proper football tournament. But, if Iceland and Costa Rica are positive examples of years gone-by, Finland might be about to cause even more upsets. Let’s just pray, for England’s sake, we’re not a part of the narrative!