Relegated from the Faroese top flight for the first time in 2009, 17-time champions KÍ Klaksvík are back in the fold, hoping a side formed around young local talent can keep them afloat.
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Until they were overtaken by HB Tórshavn in 2004, KÍ Klaksvík's 17 league titles made them the most successful side in the history of football in the Faroe Islands. They have had to endure leaner times of late, yet the seeds of recovery are being sown.
After several years of struggle, KÍ were finally relegated at the end of the 2009 campaign, going down for the first time since they won the first national title back in 1942. However, a team of young, local players came together to secure promotion at the first attempt in 2010 and, under Serbian coach Aleksandar Djordjević – who played for KÍ from 2001 to 2004 and has lived in Klaksvik ever since – they will look to keep afloat as the new campaign begins.
Battling with the likes of EB/Streymur and holders HB for the championship is probably a bit beyond KÍ's means. Goalkeeper Gunnar á Steig, one of only two players aged over 30 in the squad, has set a more modest target in the ten-team division – one which he feels KÍ are more than capable of achieving. "We're strong and also good enough to stay the course," he explained. "Anything above eighth place is acceptable, but I believe we have the squad to end up somewhere in the middle."
Last term's local heroes have been leavened by a number of useful winter signings. Serbian midfielder Nenad Stanković – the 2007 Faroese player of the year when he claimed the title with NSÍ Runavík – has arrived from Víkingur. "We have been working to recruit players with experience, so we are delighted with the Stanković deal," said Jóhann Lützen, director of the limited company that runs KÍ's first-team affairs. "He has been one of the best players in the Faroese league in recent years."
Two players who came through the KÍ ranks have also returned to bolster the cause: 28-year-old Faroese international winger Hjalgrím Elttør and midfielder-cum-forward Kristoffur Jakobsen, whose tender years mask a wealth of experience. At 22, he has played in the top flight for six years and, despite winning just one senior cap, has been a leading light of the Under-21 national side.
Chairman Tummas Lervig is pleased with the state of the squad. "We have a good team," he said. "Since the start of training in January, we have determinedly built this team up and we are in good condition."
Proof of that came on Saturday 2 April when KÍ beat third-level Undrid FF 2-0 to reach the Faroese Cup quarter-finals. They have still not lifted a trophy since their league and cup double in 1999, yet as the season starts it is steel rather than gold and silver which KÍ need to restore their reputation.