IFAF European Championship: Team Finland’s roster set for showdown with Sweden

Team Finland head coach Mikko Koikkalainen will definitely have his team looking for revenge when they face Sweden Saturday, August 5 in the semifinals of the 2023 International Federation of American Football European Championship tournament.

Sweden spoiled Finland’s chance to reach the final the last time they played their Nordic rivals in IFAF competition.

The two teams met two years ago in the 2021 IFAF European Championship semifinal and Sweden came away with a 22-14 victory after falling behind 14-0 in the first quarterSweden then fell to Italy in the final.

The winner of this game will then face either the defending champions, Team Italy, or Austria in the European Championship final later in the year.

Koikkalainen will have two quarterbacks at his disposal with Helsinki Wolverines signal caller Rasmus Laalo likely the starter. Laalo has thrown for 1,107 yards and four touchdowns so far this year while veteran Miro Kadmiry backs him up. Running back will see four of the top 10 running backs in the Maple League including Tom Suoste (Wasa Royals) who is the third leading rusher, as well as Ville Hämäläinen (Helsinki Roosters), Yusufa Lehtinin (Roosters) and Micky Kyei (Porvoon Butchers) who is listed as a wide receiver but who is the seventh leading rusher.

Defensively, Crocodiles defensive back, the fourth leading tackler in Finland anchors a solid secondary while linebacker Veikka Lehtonen (Kuopio Steelers) is a key to the front seven.

One interesting aspect of Finland’s national team is the fact that there are four pairs of brothers on the squad. Linebacker Veikka Lehtonen and his brother running back Tuukka Lehtonen both play for the Kuopio Steelers while wide receivers Janne and Joel Särkelä are from the Seinäjoki Crocodiles. Defensive back Elmeri Laalo who is joining the Vienna Vikings in the ELF and his brother quarterback Rasmus Laalo along with the brothers Vehkomäki, Samuli and Santtu who play offensive line and wide receiver respectively, round out this quartet of siblings on Team Finland.

Tuukka Lehtonen has represented Finland 36 times while Veikka will be playing in his 25th game on the Finnish national team.


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