Through to the Faroese Cup final despite injury concerns over star striker Rógvi Jacobsen, ÍF Fuglafjørdur are on course for their best season since winning the 1979 Formuladeildin title.
Coached by a veteran of that squad, Abraham Løkin, ÍF sit third in the table as the First Division resumes following a month-long summer break. Fair to say they have plenty to look forward to, not least the final of the Faroese Cup against EB/Streymur on 6 August. Having fallen 2-1 in the home leg of their semi-final against holders Víkingur, ÍF looked doomed despite leading 1-0 with two minutes left of the return. However, there was late drama: Jan Ellingsgaard scored on 89 minutes and Øssur Dalbúd made it 3-0 in added time.
"The more the match went on, the more our hopes of reaching the cup final seemed to be fading," said ÍF's 27-year-old captain, midfielder Høgni Zachariassen. "However, we still needed just the one goal and therefore kept believing we could do it. Then, finally, the ball crossed the line off the knee of Jan Ellingsgaard, and that was absolutely fantastic."
Given they have played much of the season without Jacobsen, the Faroese national team's ten-goal all-time top scorer, ÍF's achievement has been not insignificant. Dalbúd, Serbian midfielder Nenad Šarić and winger Andy Olsen – who has blossomed since his 2008 arrival from NSÍ Runavík, where he struggled to get regular football – have shone under Løkin, the former midfielder who was named his country's Golden Player as part of UEFA's jubilee celebrations in 2004.
Ex-Faroe Islands goalkeeper Jákup Mikkelsen, 39, has also proved a useful acquisition following Hungarian András Gángó's move to NSÍ, and ÍF seemingly having good players to spare in all departments. "We have a fairly deep squad, which maybe we haven't had before," said Zachariassen, "and maybe we don't struggle so much if a player or two are sidelined."
Such stability has been a rarity in Fuglafjordur – literally the fjord of birds – since 1979; the club have fluttered up and down the top two divisions, with a 4-1 Faroese Cup final defeat by local rivals GÍ Gøta in 2005 the nearest they have come to a trophy. They appeared to have hit another rough patch in their last two league games, with a 5-0 loss to B36 Tórshavn and a 4-4 draw with ten-man AB Argir, who rallied from 4-2 down, but the summer break may have steadied them again.
"In the past we have been right up there with the other teams, but have been too inconsistent," explained Zachariassen. "It seems we are more stable now, and I think that's the reason for our results."
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