FS Ilves Tampere's run of three straight preliminary round successes was ended last year on goal difference, but they are hopeful of putting that right when they act as hosts for the first time.
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FS Ilves Tampere's aim of getting out of the UEFA Futsal Cup preliminary round three years running was dashed on goal difference 12 months ago with a 0-0 draw at FC Grand Pro Varna. This time around they are at home, at the Tampere Exhibition and Sports Centre, and expect a tough test.
Ilves – whose name means lynx – start against JB Futsal Gentofte of Denmark on Wednesday before facing Malta's Hibernians FC and Hamburg Panthers, with only one side to progress to an October main round group in Riga. Player-coach Antti Teittinen, who brought in Finland defender Tomi Lahtinen this summer and has won five out of six pre-season games, is looking forward to the matches.
Anti Teittinen, coach
We will face hard and probably very skillful opponents. It is possible we may see a different kind of futsal than what we are used to here in Finland. We are strong defensively, at team play and using different tactical systems. Margins between the teams will be very narrow. This is our first time hosting the UEFA Futsal Cup. I hope to see a lot of spectators to make a great atmosphere.
Ilkka Koskinen, team manager
Victory and a ticket to Riga is the only goal we can have. We are always seeking victory – that is what we do. The team is fit. The players have gone through a hard summer of training with quite good results in friendly matches. Germany and Denmark have improved a lot in futsal. Malta have provided hard opponents for Ilves FS in recent years. There will be no easy games.