A promise made by coach Igor Prins and assistant Fredo Getulio may come back to haunt them after they guided Estonia's UEFA Champions League debutants JK Nõmme Kalju to a shock second qualifying round success against HJK Helsinki – but any resulting embarrassment will be worth it.
After issuing an unusual vow before their tie with the Finnish champions, in which goals from Yankuba Ceesay and Damiano Quintieri sealed a 2-1 second leg and aggregate triumph on Tuesday night, Prins will now shave his head while his Brazilian right-hand man will dye his locks bright blond.
"I told the boys in the morning that if we won I would shave my head or cycle from Tallinn to Parnu. They chose the first option," said Prins. That challenge was taken up with glee by his players who recorded the team's first-ever win in European competition.
"I am ready to shave the coach myself," said Italian goalscorer Quintieri. "These two matches were probably the most important in my career. When I saw HJK first time, I said to myself 'we have to beat them', but usually I am not very good with predictions. We played as a team, they did not. That is why we won."
"I will dye my hair blond with great pleasure, I have already made an appointment with a hairdresser," said Getulio, who followed the action from the stands. "It was very hard to watch the game. You just cannot get the players' attention or advise them. I shouted but it was pointless."
The Estonian club's task will not get any easier in the next round when they come up against Czech title holders FC Viktoria Plzeň, group stage contenders in 2011/12, but any illustrious names in their ranks will not intimidate the Tallinn outfit. That is according to goalkeeper Vitali Teleš after his side coped commendably with HJK's former Chelsea FC, VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach and Hannover 96 forward Mikael Forssell, who has 86 Finnish caps to his name.
"From my point of view it is just a famous name, nothing more. Our boys handled him very well," said the No1, who barked orders to his defence in uncompromising fashion throughout. "It may look a bit harsh, but all these things help the team."
Meanwhile, defeated HJK coach Sixten Boström said the pressure proved too much for his charges. "From October, when I took the helm, myself and the whole squad were asked only to be in the UEFA Champions League group stage. It was too much pressure for us," he said, following HJK's failed attempt to make the group phase for the first time since 1998/99 in front of a record attendance at Kalju's Kadriorg Stadium.
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