Having given the Norwegian cup a deservedly wide berth so far due to the relentless tedium of the thing, the quarter finals were so jam-packed with incident that NFN can no longer ignore it. Like a kind of weird uncle in the Norwegian footballing family, the 2009 Norwegian cup has gone from annoyingly dull to entertainingly crazy, and as such it now warrants our full attention..
On Saturday there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth as Brann felt wronged by Odd Grenland’s Hungarian forward Peter Kovacs, who had the nerve to score after Brann-keeper Håkon Opdal fell over injured instead of clearing a backpass. Leaving aside for one moment the irony of Brann whinging about fair play, Odd won the game 5-1 so the situation was hardly decisive, and that in the heat of the moment most players would probably have done the same. Of course, rampant moralizing being one of Norwegians’ favorite past times, people have been queuing up to castigate the big man through whatever media-outlet available to them. If anything, it was an opportunity missed for Kovacs, as bitter Brann-manager Steinar Nilsen pointed out: “Kovacs had an opportunity to become a fair-play legend in Norway, but he didn’t take it”. After all, with Brann being a bit rubbish and Eirik Bakke getting himself sent off for yet another attempt to end a fellow professional’s career, it wasn’t a game Odd were likely to lose and they didn’t really need the controversial goal.
In the other quarter final this Saturday NFN-favorite Kjetil Rekdal’s Aalesund managed to dump a very tired-looking Stabæk out of the competition. “We’ve been playing three games a week for I don’t know how long…We started to run out in the second half against FCK, and we didn’t have a lot of fuel left today,” admitted Stabæk’s talismanic forward Daniel Nannskog.
Now, if Kovacs-gate made Saturday an uncharacteristically lively cup-day, Sunday was completely off the trolley. First up, Vålerenga defeated Tromsø in a pretty bonkers 4-3 thriller. The Northerners were 3-1 up before half time, but substitute Hans Åge Yndestad who had just come on in the 33th minute somehow managed to pick up two yellow cards before the whistle sounded, and Tromsø were forced to defend their lead with just ten men in the second half. That didn’t go well at all, and in extra time Vålerenga’s turnaround was completed by Tromsø captain Miika Koppinen who scored an own-goal. “We were under pressure for 60 minutes, we made a stupid substitution in the first half and then we had a red card and an own-goal. It was pretty dark today,” concluded Koppinen after the game.
Unless something very strange happens Rosenborg will win the 2009 Tippeliga, but only the most blinkered RBK-fan would claim that they are currently the best team in Norway. “Right now we’re the best team in Norway,” announced Molde’s metrosexual midfield maestro Magne Hoseth after his team had just tonked Rosenborg 5-0, and it’s impossible to argue against him. Hoseth also thanked Rosenborg-legend Rune Bratseth for his “pep-talk”, as Bratseth in the buildup to the game had a rather childish and ignorant pop at Hoseth, claiming he couldn’t handle adversity. Hoseth of course responded by being instrumental as Molde humiliated Rosenborg, and even if RBK wins the league this year people will point to this game as evidence that the best team doesn’t always win the league. You almost hope Molde end up winning the cup so they’ll at least have a trophy to show for some of the remarkable football they’ve played this season.