Tuesday, May 22, 2007

IFK Malmö-Qviding FIF (20-05-2007)

Sunday 20 May was truly a sunday in Malmö, so, after some sight-seeing at the Western Harbor, J.B. and I made our way to the Malmö Idrottsplats stadium, a pleasant 10-15 minute walk from Malmö Central Station, to visit a game in the Division 1 Södra (technically, the Third Division in Sweden, which is divided geographically into two leagues, the south and the north). Malmö IP is a cosy little stadium just outside of the centre of town, consisting of four small wooden stands (in fact, five, as one long side has two separate stands). It is home to both IFK Malmö and the newly founded LdB FC, a women’s football club, and has a capacity of 7,600.

At the ticket box we paid 80 SEK (ca. 9 euro) and, for the first time in a long time, got a ticket in return. Ok, it was not much of a “biljett”, but it was an actual ticket. Although it was perfect weather, only some 250 people had turned up for the game; admittedly, almost twice as many as at the HIK game the day earlier. Among them, there were possibly some 10 fans of Qviding FIF, a young club from Göteborg (founded only in 1987), among them these female “ultras”.

IFK Malmö, founded in 1899 (!), used to be the team of the middle class of the city, while Malmö FF, founded in 1910, used to be the team of the working class. Anno 2007 IFK draws relatively many immigrants, maybe in part because quite some local (immigrant) youth play in the first team. One of the most notable players of the home team was a fairly corpulent central defender, whose bold head (rather than imposing physique or defending skills) reminded J.B. and me of the Brazilian defender Alex (on his way from PSV to Chelsea, unfortunately). The visitors had a couple noteworthy players too: the number 17, whose shots and face reminded me of the Norwegian player Jan Arne Riise, and the number 16, a cunning and nasty little striker. Most remarkable was that both teams fielded mainly very young players; in fact, it almost looked like a game between two youth teams.

Despite the youth of the players, the game was not played at the edge or even at a high pace. Both teams passed poorly and most players were afraid to get into duels, often pulling back their leg. Still, the game did start out ferociously: after some 5 minutes the IFK goalie made two great safes within 20 seconds, both at attempts from close range, denying the visitors an early goal. Unfortunately, a bit later he was involved in a collision after a corner kick and had to be attended for several minutes.

Not long after that he made another great safe, but this would be his last moment of the game. He was changed, probably suffering a concussion, and replaced by a far less solid goalie. Although not his fault, it would be Qviding FIF who scored the only goal in the first half: 0-1 in the 44th minute, a blow to the home team. Although the football hadn’t been great, most people, including JB and me, had enjoyed themselves in the burning sun. As I had eaten a (bulky) Dallas Burger at the Statoil gas station before coming to the game, I did not go for a sausage at half time; although the lines were short and the sausages did smell pretty good.

The second half started with a big safe from the Qviding goalie. Shortly after, in the 54th minute, a Qviding player got a red card, and only one minute later IFK equalized: 1-1. The goal came after several attempts, of which one might have already crossed the line but wasn’t counted. After that, the home team tried to look for the winner, but the level of the game deteriorated quickly. Maybe it was the warm weather, maybe it was just a lack of talent, but few passes over more than 10 meters made it without interception and both teams excelled in making the wrong choices. Somewhat surprisingly, and not even that deserved (given that they had played more than 30 minutes with a man more, yet created little in terms of plays or chances), IFK did finally score the winner in the 88th minute. It was scored from a very difficult position, almost one meter from the goal line, way out on the left side. 2-1 would also be the final score.

A pleasant surprise awaited us after the game when both teams met again at the center of the pitch, this time to thank each other for the game and to congratulate the winner; a very nice gesture which should be considered in other leagues and countries.

After that, the home team players were celebrated like heroes by the (mainly old) supporters at the main stand. At a more personal level, some players shared their victory with their friends in the audience. Despite the poor level of the game, IFK Malmö is definitely worth a visit. It has an atmosphere reminiscent of my old (amateur) football club, where you knew the players on the pitch personally.

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