Örebro lift the Cup Byggnads – from underdogs to champions…

The district team from the town Örebro became champions of Sweden this year after they won the ‘Cup Byggnads’ Final against the district team from the capital of Sweden, Stockholm. Pierre Hertin, a member of the winning squad, tells the story of the best team in Sweden.

Back row, from left to right: Daniel Wickström (coach), Axel Wetteus, Pierre Hertin (writer), Peter Eriksson (kit manager), Christer Lipovac, Martin Landén, Markus Batan, Adam Molin, Philip Holmer, Karo Karadakhi, Sebastian Ring, Jonatan Herbst, Christoffer Larsson.
Front row, left to right: Crille Neanro (GK Coach), Peder Hessel (coach), Hugo Eriksson, Filip Albertsson, Amar Bukva, Linus Lamu, Oskar Klasson, Lukman Murad, Philip Spångberg.

Every year twenty-four different counties in Sweden compete in a tournament like a Swedish Cup, called ‘Cup Byggnads’. It is both for boys and girls aged seventeen. It is a tradition that the final of the tournament is played during the Elite Camp in Halmstad where every county’s best players aged fifteen come and practice and play in front of a lot of scouts, agents and the coaches of the Swedish national team.

This year’s final was played in Halmstad between Stockholm and Örebro. The small county of Örebro had only won the tournament twice before this final and this year’s team could have been eliminated in the first group stage if it was not for some good luck.

It all started back in Åtvidaberg on 5 November 2011 and the first game against Östergotland, who have always had big talents coming through, especially from IFK Norrköping. Two years earlier Arsenal spotted a big talent named Kristoffer Olsson at the Elite Camp in Halmstad and he is from Norrköping. This game between Örebro and Östergotland was crazy and by half-time Örebro were down 4-0. The second half was even crazier and Örebro actually scored four goals but Östergotland had very good attacking quality and scored two more goals before the game was over. In that game a player from Östergotland was clear with the goalkeeper from Örebro and he chipped the ball over him but Hugo Eriksson made a fantastic run and saved the ball from going over the line; later this would become a hugely important save.

After the game Örebro had few hopes of going through but firstly they had to reload their power to be able to do their work in the match against Södermanland the day after. Södermanland was not the team who played the prettiest football but they had two good centre-backs and some creative players going forward. The result of this game was also going to be high but Örebro controlled the game quite well and it was never a doubt that they would win. Örebro won this game 5-2, but could this bad team from Södermanland really give Östergotland a good game?  They had to win if Örebro were to make their way through to the next group stage in Jönköping. The team from Örebro travelled home late after the game against Södermanland with no hopes of going through.

The following afternoon, Örebro’s captain, Axel Wetteus, picked up his laptop to see the result in the game between Östergotland and Södermanland. It was 2-1 to Södermanland and he couldn’t believe his eyes. When he spread the words via text messages and phone calls no one could believe him either. Örebro was through to the next group stage in Jönköping where they would play against Halland on 27 January before taking on the big county Skåne two days later. For a small county like Örebro this was amazing!

These two games were played at Tipshallen Elmia in Jönköping, which is an indoor arena with artificial grass. First up was Halland who were quite unknown but Örebro did know that they had a quality player in Niclas Eliasson. A week earlier he had been to London for a trial with Arsenal and they knew they had to be ready for a tough game. It was never going to be tough though. In every position Örebro had better players and that was mirrored in the final result, 4-0! Örebro had lots of possession and could really play their type of football which was nice to see for everybody attending the game.

The day after, the players in Örebro attended the game between their next opponent Skåne and Halland. That game finished 4-1 to Skåne and that made it possible for Örebro to go through if they drew the game with Skåne. Would they make it again? Should they go through?

It was Örebro against Skåne and what a game it was! Skåne took an early lead but Adam Molin scored the equalizer for Örebro soon after. A fantastic free-kick from Piotr Johansson from Skåne saw them go in at half-time with a 2-1 lead. At half-time Örebro’s head coach, Peder Hessel, brought on Lukman Murad on the wing and it was going to be a good substitution in the end. There wasn’t much time left for Örebro to draw level again and most people thought that this was the end for them when Lukman received the ball on the left-wing and ran into the penalty area before finishing in the bottom corner beyond the keeper. 2-2! A couple of minutes later the referee blew the whistle and again they had managed to do that no one believed they could do. Örebro was through to the semi-final against Jämtland/Härjedalen in Östersund, in the very north of Sweden!

Celebrating the quarter-final victory

On 1 March Örebro took the train travelling the long way from Örebro to Östersund via the capital, Stockholm. Two days later a big semi-final against Jämtland/Härjedalen awaited. On the night before the game the team had a late training session at the match arena, Jämtkraft Arena. In the end it was never a light training as the coach decided to finish earlier as the players started to become a bit harsh on each other. You could already feel that it was an important game that was waiting around the corner.

Jämtkraft Arena is a big, nice stadium which can hold 10,000 people for a football game but on the match day there were only 200 attending the game and that made the players from Örebro a bit disappointed. Usually they have more supporters standing, consisting of parents, friends, girlfriends, club coaches and siblings but that day not one of them attended the game and I can tell you that they really missed a show of high quality.

Örebro´s standard formation is 4-4-2 and Amar Bukva and Limus Lamu, who play as the two top forwards, really showed that they are two names for the future that night as they scored four goals each. I just have to say that after five seconds Örebro scored their first goal and by half-time they had a 6-0 lead. In the second half Örebro slipped in three bad goals but they also scored three more so they did not have to feel that sad for the three goals in their own net. The attacking instincts of Örebro had really produced outstanding performances throughout the whole tournament and this was just amazing! The players could not believe it. They were going to play the very big final in Halmstad on the 4 of July! This was the third time in history that a team from Örebro had made it all the way to the final but would this team be the third from Örebro to win it all?

Snowy Östersund and celebrating reaching the final.

In the final their opponents were the mighty Stockholm. Örebro were big underdogs for the final and many people thought that Stockholm would win this quite easily. Even the players from Stockholm laughed at Örebro’s players when they met before the game. They thought that it was going to be a “walk in the park” but it wasn’t going to be. When the players walked in to the arena in front of thousands of people you could already feel that the team from Örebro were concentrating more and ready to give Stockholm a real fight.

After just a couple of minutes of the game you could see that this was going to be close, that one team would win by one goal. Just like the game against Skåne, Örebro fell behind early on and this time it was Stockholm’s striker, Christian Kouakou, who scored the first goal of the game. At this stage you could feel that the next goal was going to be hugely important and if Stockholm were to get it, they would probably score a couple of more goals before half-time. If it wasn’t for Amar Bukva’s equalizer for Örebro that could have been the reality. It was a nice goal with Christer Lipovac putting in a nice cross for Bukva who just had to put it in the net. At half-time the teams were level, 1-1.

In the first-half both teams had played a little bit with the handbrake on but the second-half would be a much more open affair with good chances for goals from both sides. Sebastian Ring hit the bar early on and Isak Nylén, who looks like Peter Crouch, hit the post for Stockholm with a screamer from outside the box. At this stage Peder Hessel, coach of Örebro, decided to bring on Adam Molin and Christoffer Larsson. After 64 minutes Örebro scored the winner through the super-sub Adam Molin, who picked the ball up just inside Stockholm’s half before running away from his marker and slotting the ball in the bottom corner beyond the ‘keeper. All the players on the pitch, as the bench, went mental.

With just fifteen minutes left Örebro were now forced to defend for their lives and ‘park the bus’ as Stockholm pushed forward for an equalizer. It did not get any easier when Örebro´s defensive midfielder, Filip Albertsson, got his second yellow card and was sent off. At this stage Peder Hessel and the assistant manager, Daniel Wickström made two defensive changes as I was brought on with Karo Karadakhi. Usually Örebro play nice football but in the last ten minutes there were only five passes on the ground; we really had to defend and play it safe. Three minutes of injury time was announced and for many players in Örebro, this was the longest three minutes of their lives. But when the referee blew the final whistle I think it was worth the wait. Örebro were Champions, Champions of Sweden and with a lot of style. Absolutely fantastic!

Pierre Hertin 

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