The new Faroese season begins on Saturday – unusually early due to a busy 2013 in which the national team will play an unprecedented seven FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Promoted AB Argir are back in the ten-strong top division as they prepare to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their founding on 15 August. This is their third spell in the elite league – they lasted just one season in 2007 but then enjoyed a longer stint from 2009–10 – and coach Sámal Erik Hentze appreciates what they are up against. "Everybody knows that promoted sides have to try to stay in the division, and we say the same," he said. "We'll try to stay in the division this year. That's our goal."
Once a suburb on the other side of the river from the capital, Argir has been drawn into the Torshavn municipality in the years since AB were formed in fairly threadbare circumstances in 1973. At that stage, the club had no ground to play or train on, except for a small area in a local schoolyard. HB Tórshavn and B36 Tórshavn allowed AB to share their facilities, yet the lack of a home base made it tough for the newcomers to establish a youth programme.
When the club finally laid their first pitch in 1983, adding a club house in 1985, things started to get moving. It took until 1999 for AB to win their first male title at any age level, but that pioneering Under-10 team now constitute the bulk of the senior selection that will take on all-comers this term – something recently retired chairman Andrass Drangastein noted with pride.
"In 2000 we did not have many home-grown players in the senior team," he said. "However today, even though we are in the top division, we can field a team which we put together from our own resources. That is a sign that this club have belief in our players."
Nonetheless, AB made it clear from the minute they were promoted that they would need to bring in outside assistance to make a stab at top-tier survival in 2013 – hence the signing of Romanian midfielder Sorin Anghel from EB/Streymur. One of the most influential players in the Faroes since landing here 12 years ago, the 33-year-old is excited about the challenge ahead.
"When I came to EB/Streymur in 2001, it was a very young team and I helped build it up in those 12 years," said Anghel. "AB are in the same position as EB/Streymur back then. The players are young and don't have that much top-division experience. I'll do all I can to keep them up. All the top-flight teams are good, but I believe AB will make it."
Other new recruits include Senegalese forward Ahmed Keita, from relegated B68 Toftir, and winger Rógvi Poulsen, who has returned to his childhood club from HB. Pre-season results have been promising, but Hentze is keeping his feet on the ground. "It will probably be tough for us," he said. "Training matches are one thing, it's very different when the competition starts and teams are playing for three points – then we'll really be tested. It will be hard, certainly, but exciting."
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