Haka looking for victory

Friday 12 July 2002

Mihail Slawuta proved to be the bane of Fulham's front line at Craven Cottage last Saturday. Pulling off a series of stunning saves, he almost single-handedly ensured that FC Haka returned to Finland with a fighting chance of advancing to the third round to face Aegaleo FC of Greece.

Looking back on the encounter at Craven Cottage with a purely statistical hat on. The law of averages would suggest that if Fulham can muster a similar number of efforts on goal, Slawuta surely won't be able to repeat his heroics.

FC Haka Manager Olli Huttunen, himself a goalkeeping hero with the club, explained how Slawuta is still something of a new kid on the block at Haka.

"Slawuta has been with us for one month," explained Huttunen. "Our number one goalkeeper Panu Toivonen is injured. Slawuta has now played in the last four games, early this season we had a young 'keeper who played, but after that we bought Slawuta.

"He played very, very well for us against Fulham. He is a very good goalkeeper and at this moment is number one in our team."

This summer's World Cup has demonstrated that there can be no such thing as a nailed-on favourite. So with many tipping Fulham to break Haka's rearguard in Finland, nothing can be taken for granted.

Huttunen knows that his side will have to take the initiative.

"I know it won't be an easy game. Of course Fulham will try to win the game and we will have to play well defensively. We will also have to attack if we are to win the game.

"We didn't create too many chances but it was an away game and the most important thing was not to concede a goal.

"When we play these European away games, out tactics are to play a counter-attacking game - that is how we beat Obilic in the last round."