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Discussion in 'Yanks Abroad' started by Dave Marino-Nachison, Mar 22, 2012.
If they can successfully park the bus in Poland, this is on the verge of being a story...
Seriously wishing all the best for the team and that they can progress. Next round is where we'll see the likes of Internazionale, Tottenham, Villareal, Twente, Moscow and Zurich. To see Punyed and Stjarnan play against one of those teams will be absolutely crazy. Punyed will get a LOT of attention for sure, even the coach of El Salvador is currently checking him out.
Those big teams I mentioned are just out of the 18 teams that will enter the tournament from the play off round though (15 teams are Champions League 3rd qualifying round losers, and the remaining 29 are winners of this round); there will be a total of 62 teams playing next round, so there's still a chance that Stjarnan can get away with playing against one of the weak teams once again.
That totally happened! Stjarnan managed a 0-0 draw and progress 1-0 on aggregate. Punyed started and went 90.
Draw tomorrow morning.
Would love to see them get drawn against one of the big sides. Inter or Spurs would (likely) knock them out, but it would still be fun. Celtic though...big club, awful form...could get them to the group stage.
What an excellent achievement for Stjarnan and Punyed.
The underappreciated factor in Euro club qualifiers is seed status. Being seeded generally leads to easier draws and being unseeded often forces you to take on much tougher clubs. Being on the seeded side of the line can make or break the qualifying campaign of mid-tier clubs (mid-tier within the scope of Euro club qualifiers). So for a very small club like Stjarnan to advance to the playoff round despite being unseeded every step of the way is a huge challenge. Good for them.
I have sometimes been asked about the level in Iceland ... and they are not amateurs, but quite comparable to Danish second level (1. Division) ... and probably a bit better than playing top-flight in Finland.
If you look at the Stjarnan squad, then they have 4 Danish players... striker Rolf Toft (who scored the decisive goal in Poland as well as a decisive goal against Motherwell) has played 22 Superliga games and also a few Europa League qualifiers for Danish Champions AaB Aalborg, but was tired of not being a regular starter, so he took the opportunity of signing with Stjarnan this summer, because he knew they were playing in Europe, the same goes for their 22-yo centre back Martin Rauschenberg. He is a Danish youth international who played 4 Superliga games for Esbjerg before he moved to Iceland.. Niclas Vemmelund is a talented 21-yo right back who had truble getting minutes in the Superliga for OB Odense, while the Stjarnan captain Michael Præst has experience from the Danish 1. Division, playing for Kolding, FC Fyn and Vejle BK (where Jimmy Nielsen was playing berfore he moved to Kansas), so we are mainly talking about young Danish league quality players, who have had some trouble, not being regular starters or not quite getting the opportunity they had expected or hoped for in the Danish Superliga, so they jump at the opportunity to play Europa cup for an Icelandic team.
You got it!
This is gonna be interesting to watch...
So cool. Bravo to Punyed. Even if you do nothing else in the game, you've got this story for the rest of your life. And if you want to do something more in the game, as we all hope you can, no better way to get there than this. These guys toughing it out on the fringes of the game so often the best stories. And I think collectively do a great deal of good for the American player, whether or not they ever come within a mile of suiting up for the national team.
Btw... the reason you can find fairly many Danish players in Icelandic teams, while you would be hard pressed to find even a single Dane playing in Finland or in the Baltic area, is because Iceland used to be under Danish rule and later was a sovereign state in a union with Denmark, before they became an independent republic after WW2... while Finland has it's own indecipherable language and seem more culturally related to Russia, Danes still regard Iceland to be a "part of the family" so to speak, just as lots of young people from Iceland chose to study in Denmark. so it seems natural for young Danish Superliga players to jump at the opportunity to play in Iceland, while they would think more than twice before signing up with a team from Finland.... I'm sure the people of Iceland are happy to be an independent republic, but in some respect they still benefit from their past union with Denmark.
Denmark is very much a part of Iceland in the sense of history. Köben is part of every Icelanders life, I think nearly every Icelander visits Köbenhavn sometime in their lifetime. I know many many many people who have or are studying in Denmark. However Icelanders came close to be moved from Iceland to Denmark. After the great Laki fires in the seventeen hundreds, Denmark considered to move the population to Denmark. There are also so many things in the Icelandic language which have originatied from Danish as well as many Icelandic streets have Danish origins.
It's amazing how far Stjarnan came; from the first qualifying round to playing against Inter in the play-offs. Every round that Stjarnan progressed in have all been a huge surprise. I don't expect them to beat Inter (would be AMAZING if they did, let alone score a goal), but I am keen to see how Punyed plays against such a tough team. I hope he can move to a better club, that's for sure. He's still young, it's never too late to be a starter in a good league and become good enough that the US would want to call him up (chances are he might go the Arturo Alvarez and Steve Purdy route and play for El Salvador).
PS. @Ceres and @Icelander thanks for the mini-history lesson! Was interesting to read!
I can't imagine he's too far off an El S call-up at this point.
I read somewhere a couple weeks ago the Salvadoran coach Albert Roca has been watching him lately (for obvious reasons).
Next month is the Copa Centroamericano (Gold Cup qualifying, basically) but Punyed won't be called up so soon since they already called up a preliminary squad. Next year is the Gold Cup, so we'll see how well he does this new season. Whether USA or ES calls him up, I'd be happy just as long as he would be a regular player.
Like I said before, it's not too late to become US MNT material
Somewhat unrelated but LOL dunno if you guys have seen this Stjarnan video. Goal.com posted an article about Internazionale playing Stjarnan, and they put up this video from 2011.
"Inter fans may find themselves in the unusual position of wanting their team to concede when Walter Mazzarri's men begin their Europa League campaign later this month."
The fish catching celebration!
What he really wants is to make it at Sporting Kansas City....he still is in contact with them after he was cut. If he shows well against Inter Milan, maybe Vermes gives him another look in the off season. He also said he is very interested to see if NYCFC would have any openings because he loved playing in New York at St. Johns. In other words, if he impresses and gets MLS offers, that'd be attractive for him.
As for El Salvador, even the most die-hard USMNTs would wish him well if that's his choice. He's likely never to make a USMNT push but if he can be part of helping El Salvador's national team rebound after last year's embarrassing match fixing scandal, maybe that could be rewarding for him.
Either way, this is a cool story.
They would need more than a miracle to get past Inter, but I do not regard it as a huge surprise that they have come this far. Icelandic teams usually reach the 2nd qualifying round, and it's not unusual that they get as far as a 3rd qualifying round. Last season Breidablik bumped off Sturm Graz from Austria to reach the 3 qualifying round, just as Hafnarfjardar reached the play-off's last season .....
It's more a surprise this season because Stjarnan have never qualified for Europe before, so this is their first attempt in Europe. But again... they did sign some Danish players with Superliga experience, and all due respect to the Polish and Scottish PL, but the Danish league is of higher quality and the Icelandic league is not that far from Scottish or Polish league quality.... In any case, there is no doubt that Danish clubs have be watching Stjarnan and Punyed.
I would also add that beating Motherwell and Lech were upsets, but beating Bangor City in the first qualifying round was definitely not. The Icelandic league is far more successful in Europe than the League of Wales, especially recently and the result was unsurprising (8-0 on aggregate).
The Welsh league is the English equivalent to the Danish Faroe Islands in Europe... it's just about the same level and Faroese football is comparable to amateur 4th level football in Denmark. Very far from the level in Iceland.
I would rate the Icleandic league at about the same level as Finland and better than Ireland.
It is all very impressive for a nation whose population is less than half that of the largest counties in Maryland. Also made the WC qualifying playoff out of UEFA.
I read somewhere that he also wants to play in Germany (this is also mentioned in the Salvadorans Abroad thread in the El Salvador section, the members there are following him too, since he's keen to play for ES), the Bundesliga would be very good for him. Obviously Bundesliga is a top 4 league, but how is the 2nd division? Surely it's that much better than Icelandic league..
I support Punyed 100% whether he plays for ES or USA. I would prefer for him to strive for USA first though.
ES is slowly turning over a leaf since the scandal: all players involved have been banned for life, plus their new coach and assistant coach Roca and Cuadrat from Spain are affiliated with FC Barcelona and Galatasaray; they have been a good influence for the team and it shows as ES held their own in the friendlies against Côte d'Ivoire and Spain.
I should also mention that ES u-20 had a very good run in the CONCACAF Championship qualifiers finishing 2nd in the group over Honduras and Costa Rica.
ES is doing fine for now.
Back in the Icelandic league, Punyed scored a game winner for Stjarnan in the 4th minute of 2nd half stoppage time for a 2-1 win over Thor
Stjarnan is in second place in Iceland but even on points with leaders FH (trailing only on goal differential)
Pablo Oshan Battuto Punyed en fuego in the Land of Ice
Stajrnan's home game against Inter is actually today, not Thursday. The game is at 5 pm Eastern time, and Punyed is getting the start as usual.