With three rounds of fixtures remaining, and the top three teams separated by only two points, the upcoming international break is a welcome opportunity for the Finnish First Division to draw breath.
Title holders HJK Helsinki once again lead the way, but last season's 24-point winning margin now seems ancient history. Their closest challenge this time around has come from south-west Finland, with FC Inter Turku a point adrift in second and TPS Turku a further point shy in third.
With all three sides edging 1-0 victories on the most recent matchday, the final furlong remains too tight to call. "Everything is still possible," said Inter Turku coach Job Dragtsma, whose team had accrued just four points from five games prior to Monday's 1-0 win against IFK Mariehamn. "This result was much needed, because I sensed an element of fear after not winning in recent weeks. This win was important ahead of the last three matches."
With a fortnight until the next set of games, the championship race is tantalisingly poised. "You never know whether it is good or bad," said Dragtsma. "In two weeks you can prepare well for the next game. In that next match Haka need the points and so do we. Everybody need points; we'll see what happens."
Many wrote off the chances of TPS when Finnish international Toni Kolehmainen left for Norway's Hønefoss BK in August, but Marko Rajamäki's side have proved the doubters wrong. A succession of injuries prompted Rajamäki to exclaim his desire for TPS merely to stay in contention going into the international break; they are very much still in the hunt.
Though leaders HJK have everything in their own hands, any slip would make the 22 October Turku derby a potentially defining day in the title chase. Nonetheless, Sixten Boström was on Tuesday announced as the capital club's coach for next term, leaving current incumbent Antti Muurinen with even more motivation to mastermind a fitting finale.
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