Swedish Championship Game: The Coaches

For the third time in three years, the Stockholm Mean Machines and Carlstad Crusaders will face each other in the Swedish Championship Game.

For the last two years, Stockholm has prevailed under head coach Fredrik Pilbäck. This will be the second title game for Billy BD Kennedy at the helm of the Crusaders. As both coaches prepare for the final, AFI asked them a series of  questions about the season, their preparations and COVID/19.

When asked about their thoughts on how they thought the regular season went, they had slightly different opinions.

Fredrik Pilbäck: I think we did a good job of handling the struggle with COVID and the other challenges we faced.

Kennedy was more expansive: Well first of all I would say we feel very fortunate to actually get to play. We were feeling pretty good about where we were back in March with the season rapidly approaching then everything came to a stop. The regular season was pretty intense with six straight games, but it was competitive and fun. Like I said, fortunate that we were able to actually play this season.

Have you had time since the playoff game for players to heal up?

Pilbäck: Yep. This will be the first game of the season with all players and staff available.

Kennedy: Yes, the bye weeks have been useful for the ability to heal up. So I cannot complain about that. It has been an adjustment from going at a “6 games in 6 weeks” pace to “two game in 4 weeks”. But it has helped in recovery and preparation.

How does the team feel going into the final game of this shortened season?

Pilbäck: Great. Well prepared. Focused but not to tight. Its been decades since I have seen a team this good on Swedish soil.

Kennedy: One, very excited to be playing in the championship season. Focused, determined and together. That is how I would describe the team.

You both have game breaking players, you have Alpha Jalloh and Carlstad Niko Lester. How much do you take this into account? And how much would you use the one on the other?

Pilbäck: Alpha can be a gamechanger. Great athlete and a smart football player. If you don’t plan for him he might tear you apart. We have a great Defense with a lot of players who can handle the task.

Kennedy: Both these guys are great players. I don’t know what SMM will do with Alpha, but we will use Niko everywhere and have him do what he can do to help the team. Actually, that is what the plan for everyone is.

Based on your playoff game, what kind of adjustments do you think you need to make for this game?

Pilbäck: For the first time this season We are able to set the best team on the field. We have scouted CC well and adjusted some details to put our players in best possible positions.

Kennedy: Don’t turn the ball over. Play smart at all times. Be there as a teammate to lead, encourage and hold each other accountable. X & O adjustments are in and are top secret….

Question to Coach Pilbäck: This is the third straight year you are playing the Swedish title game against Carlstad. You won the previous two but this year lost the final regular season game to them. Do you think that actually helps the team, keeps the players from feeling too confident?

Pilbäck: Yes. It was a good wakeup call. We have never lost a playoff game vs CC and that’s a great advantage when it comes down to the tight situations. We are good at handle pressure and We are always best when it matters the most.

Question to Coach Kennedy: This is the third straight year you are playing the Swedish title game against Stockholm. You lost the previous two but beat them in the final regular season game. How much of a difference does that make going into the title game?

Kennedy:  I think the title game is an individual entity. A single moment. Predictions are fun and always bulletin board material for one team or the other. History is what happened yesterday. The game is played today. That is what we will focus on.

Both coaches: And just your final thoughts on being able to play football when so many countries around the world cannot.

Pilbäck: We are very humble for the fact that We are fortunate enough to be able to play. There have been a struggle with Covid but We have handled it good.

Kennedy: Man, it has been the longest season every of perpetual preparation in different ways. I am proud of our federation and football family for riding this thing out and being professional in getting games played. There are some strange “covid protocols” but they seem to work. The clubs have all done a great job. We (CC) have not had a single positive test since March, and we only had one that time. Bottom line, is I just feel fortunate. More than anything, I hope that we get through this pandemic and people are safe and life can someday be normal again. Until then, adhering to the protocols.

For international viewers, watch the game live here. Stockholm Mean Machines @ Carlstad Crusaders, October 24, 15:00 (3 pm) CET (09:00 ET, 9 am)

Viewers in Sweden can watch the game on CMore.se.

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