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Season review: Estonia

Published: Wednesday 11 November 2009, 9.00CET
In the year that Estonia celebrated 100 years of football in the Baltic nation, FC Levadia Tallinn claimed a fourth successive Meistriliiga title, but coach Igor Prins said there was more to come from his side.
by Mikhail Malkin
from Tallinn
Season review: Estonia
Levadia's unbeaten run in the league was ended after 61 games ©FC Levadia Tallinn
Published: Wednesday 11 November 2009, 9.00CET

Season review: Estonia

In the year that Estonia celebrated 100 years of football in the Baltic nation, FC Levadia Tallinn claimed a fourth successive Meistriliiga title, but coach Igor Prins said there was more to come from his side.

In the year that Estonia celebrated 100 years of football in the Baltic nation, FC Levadia Tallinn claimed a fourth successive Meistriliiga title, and coach Igor Prins said there was even more to come from his side.

Champions: FC Levadia Tallinn
FC Flora, JK Nõmme Kalju, JK Sillamäe Kalev and JK Trans Narva all had eyes on the title at the start of the season, and a nation scented blood when Levadia lost to Flora in the Super Cup, the traditional curtain-raiser. Levadia subsequently bowed out of the Estonian Cup, but responded in fearsome style and did not lose a Meistriliiga game until November. Defeat ended a 61-game unbeaten run in the league, but by that time a fourth successive title was safely in the bag, with coach Prins warning: "We have not reached our potential yet."

Cup final: FC Flora 0-0 JK Nõmme Kalju (aet, Flora win 4-3 on penalties)
Nõmme Kalju made it hard for Tarmo Rüütli's team, but the capital side held their nerve from the spot as the cup final was settled on 12 May. Success in the Cup and Super Cup promised much for Flora, but the season was to end in disappointment for Estonia's most successful club, with an early exit from European competition and a fourth-placed finish in the league.

Player of the Year: Sander Puri (FC Levadia Tallinn)
The midfielder, 21, continued his impressive development with reliable performances for Levadia and the national team and his goal in the 1-0 win against Armenia gave Estonia their first 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying win. In August, he decided not to extend his contract at Levadia and, despite interest from a number of clubs, is still pondering his next move.

One to watch: Nikita Andreev (FC Levadia/UD Almería)
Another 21-year-old set for a bright future, Andreev scored 17 goals in the first 17 games of the season, and also found the target against Wisła Kraków in the UEFA Champions League. The former Russian Under-19 international told uefa.com his dream was to play for FC Zenit St. Petersburg, but he was happy enough to accept a move to Spanish side UD Almería, where he has signed a three-year contract.

Surprise package: FC Levadia Tallinn
In a season of few positive surprises, Levadia raised the most eyebrows, winning 31 of their 36 league games and ending the season just three points shy of 100. A decent European campaign also saw them eliminate Wisła and give eventual UEFA Champions League group-stage contenders Debreceni VSC a tough game, losing 2-0 on aggregate.

Leading scorer: Vitali Gussev, FC Levadia Talinn (26)

Number: 100
The first recorded football match in Estonia took place in June 1909, and to celebrate the centenary of that game the national team played friendlies against Equatorial Guinea (3-0), Portugal (0-0) and Brazil (0-1), with Estonian Football Association president Aivar Pohlak telling his UEFA counterpart Michel Platini that Estonia were interested in hosting UEFA EURO 2024™.

Quote
"Our main goal is to win the Meistriliiga, and we did it for the fourth year running. Fans will remember our impressive run without a loss, though I won't argue that we were unbeaten for so long because of the absence of strong opposition."
FC Levadia Tallinn head coach Igor Prins

Last updated: 13/11/09 9.10CET

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