Roy Hodgson has taken charge of Finland with immediate effect despite originally not intending to start work until the summer.
World Cup tests
The 58-year-old Englishman signed his new contract today, having been released earlier than expected by Norwegian club Viking FK. Hodgson will therefore be in charge when Finland travel to Saudi Arabia later this week for a friendly tournament involving the hosts and their fellow FIFA World Cup finalists, the Korean Republic. Jyrki Heliskoski, who had been caretaker coach, will work as Hodgson's assistant.
The former FC Internazionale Milano and Blackburn Rovers FC coach first came to international prominence with Switzerland at the 1994 World Cup finals. The Finnish post became vacant last June when long-serving coach Antti Muurinen was sacked. Hodgson has plenty of experience working in Scandinavian football, having won the Swedish championship with Halmstads BK in 1979 and Malmö FF in 1988. In 2001, he guided FC København to the Danish title.
Pleased at resolution
Pekka Hämäläinen, the Football Association of Finland chairman, said: "I'm glad we have got this sorted out already. We can now start preparing for [UEFA] EURO 2008™." Finland's squad for their Middle East trip includes two new faces in KSV Cercle Brügge striker Paulus Roiha and Tampere United FC midfielder Jussi Kujala after Molde FK defender Toni Kallio and Birmingham City FC striker Njazi Kuqi dropped out.
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