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Season review: Estonia

Published: Tuesday 9 November 2010, 11.00CET
Rookie coach Martin Reim steered FC Flora Tallinn through some testing times and to their first title in seven years, ending the dominance of city rivals and cup winners FC Levadia Tallinn.
by Mikhail Malkin
Season review: Estonia
A young Flora team blossomed in Estonia this season ©Egon Tintse
Published: Tuesday 9 November 2010, 11.00CET

Season review: Estonia

Rookie coach Martin Reim steered FC Flora Tallinn through some testing times and to their first title in seven years, ending the dominance of city rivals and cup winners FC Levadia Tallinn.

Few at the start of the 2010 season envisaged FC Levadia Tallinn's four-year stranglehold on the Estonian championship being broken, not least by a youthful FC Flora Tallinn squad under the guidance of the inexperienced Martin Reim.

Champions: FC Flora Tallinn
Flora's eighth title, and first since 2003, ended Levadia's recent monopoly. That they were able to do so in a season when several established players, including long-serving defender Teet Allas, departed because of financial problems was some achievement. A young squad – at 27, captain Karl Palatu was the oldest − was boosted by the return of Henri Anier, 19, and Sander Post from loan spells abroad.

Cup final: FC Levadia Tallinn 3-0 FC Flora Tallinn
Levadia earned some consolation when they lifted the Estonian Cup for the sixth time after defeating their title rivals in the May showpiece. Andero Pebre opened the scoring for Levadia, who also overcame their opponents in the Super Cup. Vitali Leitan doubled the lead on the hour, with Artjom Dmitrijev adding a third 18 minutes from time.

European places*
FC Flora Tallinn − UEFA Champions League qualifying round
FC Levadia Tallinn − UEFA Europa League qualifying round
JK Trans Narva − UEFA Europa League qualifying round
JK Nõmme Kalju − UEFA Europa League qualifying round

*Exact rounds and entry subject to final confirmation from UEFA.

Surprise package: Martin Reim (FC Flora Tallinn)
Flora's former captain and Estonia's most capped player was taken aback when he was offered the job on the eve of the new season following Tarmo Ruutli's departure. The 39-year-old rookie proved an inspired choice, his tactical acumen and motivational qualities helping unite a youthful squad in testing times.

Player of the Year*: Sander Post (FC Flora Tallinn)
Having ended a five-year international hiatus in May, the towering striker scored a hat-trick in his first league game back in Flora colours following two seasons on loan at Go Ahead Eagles in the Netherlands. The 26-year-old struck 24 goals in 17 top-flight appearances, including six in an 8-0 defeat of FC Lootus Kohtla-Järve in September.

* UEFA.com's choice. The official Estonian Football Association Player of the Year will be named on 20 November.

One to watch: Eino Puri (FC Levadia Tallinn)
Successive qualifications for the UEFA European Under-19 Championship elite round and a decent display in Under-21 qualifying indicate a bright future for Estonia. Puri, the U21 captain, had been overshadowed by twin brother Sander at Levadia for several years. Yet after his sibling joined Greece's Larissa FC the 22-year-old came to the fore with performances brimming with pace, creativity and fearless tackling.

Leading scorer: Sander Post (FC Flora Tallinn) 24


Relegated: FC Lootus Kohtla-Järve

Promoted: FC Ajax Lasnamäe

FC Kuressaare meet SK Tamme Auto Kiviõli in a two-legged promotion/relegation play-off on 14 and 20 November.

Number: 7
Years without a league title for Flora before this season. Having dominated the early part of the decade with three championships between 2001 and 2003, few expected a young squad with a rookie coach to finish top of the pile.

Quote
"It wasn't Flora who won the title − it was us who lost it. We punished ourselves by making unnecessary mistakes throughout the season. After our recent success, silver is a step back."
Levadia captain Konstantin Nahk on losing the title race.

Last updated: 04/01/11 3.05CET

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http://www.uefa.com/memberassociations/association=est/news/newsid=1562195.html#season+review+estonia

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