Something unusual is afoot in the Danish Superliga – neither FC København nor Brøndby IF are top of the table at the winter break.
Both capital rivals, who have won the last seven championships between them, may have improved from disappointing starts, but Brøndby occupy an unfamiliar ninth position while FCK, chasing a title hat-trick, sit two points behind surprise leaders Aalborg BK. Expect, therefore, the title-holders to do bidding of a financial kind in January. "It would be strange if nothing were to happen during the transfer window," FCK president Flemming Østergaard said.
'Belief is everything'
Yet AaB's status is no fluke, especially considering their small squad have also won the UEFA Intertoto Cup and come through UEFA Cup qualifying to play in the group stage. AaB coach Erik Hamrén said: "Belief is everything. Not just in football, but in life in general. If you do not believe in your opportunity, you win nothing – no matter how good you are."
If FCK are seeking to strengthen their squad, AaB are more concerned with keeping key players in North Jutland as they attempt to add to their championship triumphs of 1994/95 and 1998/99. Although sporting director Lynge Jakobsen has stated many times he is not interested in selling, he may get offers he cannot resist for players such as Siyabonga Nomvethe, Mattias Lindström and Rade Prica. "I can understand if some of them want to move on and make more money," Jakobsen said.
It is the experience of AaB's European campaign, which has taken the team to UC Sampdoria and Tottenham Hotspur FC among other destinations before Wednesday's trip to Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC, which may cost the club some of their top talents. Swedish international striker Prica said: "Playing in these UEFA Cup ties is just great, and knowing there is the same kind of atmosphere at domestic league games in other countries, might make it tempting to leave." Hamrén and Jakobsen will hope that temptation will have been resisted when AaB's Superliga campaign resumes at Odense BK on 16 March.
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