Team Finland HC Mele Mosqueda looking forward to grudge match against Sweden

Today, October 17, the Finnish national team will square off against Team Sweden in Stockholm just two weeks ahead of Finland’s bronze medal European Championship contest in two weeks’ time.

There will be as many as 19 fresh faces on the Finnish side this weekend as head coach Mele Mosqueda gives the starters a rest before the crucial medal game on Saturday, October 30.

Despite their being a sea of fresh faces, Finland will also be bringing players such as Tino Ndongo, Kimi Linnaainmaa and Filip Zacok who participated in the NFL International Combine earlier this week – making it anything but an experimental team.

Team Finland @ Team Sweden, Sunday, October 17, 12:00 CET (12 noon, 06:00 am ET)

AFI sat down with Mosqueda to ask how preparations have been going:

AFI: What’s the mood in camp ahead of Sunday’s game?

“As with every National Team operation, there is always excitement; the main one being of our players wanting to prove themselves as it is a diligent process for all. This is the ultimate honor, a chance to wear the Finnish Flag at the Men’s International Level. Not many people can say they’ve had that distinct honor. This October period is rather a bit different as not only does it entail a rivalry game with the annual Finnkampen, but is also part of our 3-Step Preparation for the end of the month; in addition for the future of the Men’s Program. Having our biggest rival to start this process should ignite many individuals in what is to come.”

AFI: How have you guys prepared and has the ending of the Finnish season made much difference to that?

“We’re going off a “hybrid” minicamp process to better ensure a platform where everyone involved can first of all recharge their batteries after a long Maple League/Finnish Football Season that had to deal with the Pandemic a second time, but at the same time be mentally and physically locked in for the demands of finishing our European Championship journey on a high note. It definitely has not been easy on any individual, and the focus is to ensure everyone has their normal mindset throughout each step to handle our business.”

AFI: What went wrong in the last matchup against Sweden?

“To say something went wrong wouldn’t give the game the respect it deserves. It’s football and at the end of the day opportunities need to be taken care of and seized. We started off explosively in the semi-final and this within itself, for a young team such as ours, says a lot. We just need to learn to finish as Sweden is a dominant (and very-well coached) team and they took advantage of their opportunities to the fullest; they made us pay. This is a game where you have to finish and that is a learning process for our young team, who is even younger now. Putting away teams is key and it’s part of our learning process through tough lessons.”

AFI: Have you started to feel any special bond or rivalry between the two teams who seem to have played each other more than any other European teams?

“Definitely! After the semi-final, including our training camp that led into it, it’s been a beautiful process to witness what this game (Finnkampen) and the Finland-Sweden Rivalry truly means. This holds an immense meaning and amount of respect for each staff member, player and coach. To be able to witness that process, especially after the National Team not having a game since 2019, you could see how much this means for everyone. I still get goosebumps from the first moment hearing the national anthem and Finlandia playing in the tunnel. In that precise moment, it sunk in and words simply cannot explain how much of an honor and privilege it is to be a part of this program. It’s truly a blessing to represent Suomi as I didn’t dream this big!”

Watch the game live here. Team Finland @ Team Sweden, Sunday, October 17, 12:00 CET (12 noon, 06:00 am ET)


Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.