LIVESTREAM Finland Semifinals: Seinäjoki Crocodiles @ Kuopio Steelers, September 3, 17:30 CET (5:30pm, 11:30am)

Finland’s fourth-seeded Seinäjoki Crocodiles (4-4) will drive across the country to eastern Finland Friday to take on the top-seeded and defending champion Kuopio Steelers (7-1) in this Maple League semifinal matchup.

These two teams met twice during the regular season as Kuopio was able to sweep the Crocodiles in two hard-fought games. Both squads know each other well as they also met in last year’s semi-finals. The Crocodiles are eager to get back to the Maple Bowl for the first time since 2016, while the home team Steelers are determined to repeat as champions.

Kuopio’s defense is the strength of their team and Dutch edge defender Semmie Radji is a key reason why. Radji’s size, skill, and effort have been evident as the second-year Steeler led the Maple League in both tackles for a loss and sacks this season. Radji is part of a fierce defensive front that includes former NCAA Div. 1 lineman Ikeem Allen and Finnish veteran Jani Lindqvist. In the secondary, defensive backs Kenny Floret, Roni Laine, Eero Vaija, and Adel Bafdile have made things tough for opposing quarterbacks. The Steeler’s ferocious pass rush and athletic secondary have combined for 14 interceptions and 16 total sacks this season, leading the league in both categories. However, against a run-heavy Crocodiles offense, fans can expect linebacker Maurice Wright to stay busy trying to stop the league’s leading rusher Seinäjoki’s Christian Powell.

Seinäjoki Crocodiles @ Kuopio Steelers, September 3, 17:30 CET (5:30pm, 11:30am)

Offensively Kuopio features their own superstar running back in Le’anthony Reasonover. Reasonover narrowly missed the league’s rushing title putting up 1,252 yards this season. The shifty back is complemented by Finnish running back Tuuka Lehtonen giving the Steelers options in the backfield. In the passing game, Joey Bradley is eager to help punch the Steelers‘ ticket to the Maple Bowl as he had led an offense that averaged 41.6 points per game during the regular season. Bradey will look to find receivers Jeffrey Alexandre, Isaac Marshall, and Hannes Harju. Against a skilled Seinäjoki Crocodiles secondary expect Kuopio to pound the rock today.

Seinäjoki’s defense has struggled against the run this year giving up 158 yards a game. Two bright spots in the run defense are defensive end Filip Zacok and linebacker Jaska Varinen. Zacok’s massive size and division one talent have been able to change games in an instance this season. Behind him, linebacker Jaska Varinen has produced yet another fantastic season as the veteran is known as one of Scandinavia’s best tacklers year in and year out. These two and the rest of the Seinäjoki defense must gang tackle in order to slow down a dangerous Steelers offense.

The Crocodiles offense has been a different story week to week. Seinäjoki has started four different quarterbacks this season.  Initially, Seinäjoki lost starting quarterback Zachary Whitehead for the season in late June. The Crocodiles responded by signing former UTSA (NCAA D1) quarterback Zack Greenlee. Greenlee started two games then suffered an injury of his own. Sixteen-year-old quarterback Arttu Aalto has also played this season but suffered an injury of his own. Last week, wide receiver Nathaniel Robitaille and running back Christian Powell both took turns playing quarterback as the Crocodiles were able to win their regular-season finale behind a strong rushing attack. Some good news, however, is that quarterback Zack Greenlee has returned to practice and is expected to play today. His addition creates a shroud of mystery to this potentially explosive offense. Expect whoever is playing quarterback to target former CFL receiver Benjamin Plu and Nathaniel Robitaille.

However, Robitaille appeared to pull a muscle in his leg and is also questionable today. One constant for the Crocodiles throughout a roller-coaster season has been running back Christian Powell. Powell ran for a league-best 1,305 yards this season. With that stat line, the former Colorado University Buffalo (NCAA D1) has led the Maple League in rushing the past three seasons. Fan’s, coaches, and players all know Powell will see plenty of touches again today as the Crocodiles are hungry to pull off the upset.

Fans can expect a hard-fought game today between two teams hungry to punch their ticket to the title game. The Steelers seem poised to repeat as champions after a dominant regular season, yet the Crocodiles could put together the right plan and knock off the defending champs in hostile territory.

Watch the game live here: Seinäjoki Crocodiles @ Kuopio Steelers, September 3, 17:30 CET (5:30 pm, 11:30 am)

Kuopio Steelers depth chart

Seinäjoki Crocodiles depth chart

 

 

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football