Underdog Follo stuns Rosenborg

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A football version of David conquering Goliath played out in a semi-rural area south of Oslo on Wednesday, when the underdog Follo soccer team dashed around the field in pink uniforms and soundly defeated Rosenborg (RBK) of Trondheim, usually considered Norway’s powerhouse team. Follo, which plays at the bottom of the first division, will now go on to play against Strømsgodset in Norway’s annual Cup Final.

The grin on the face of Follo goalkeeper Glenn Arne Hansen, and all the other Follo fans, said it all. PHOTO: NRK/Views and News

“That’s the charm of the Cup,” claimed Rosenborg’s legendary coach Nils Arne Eggen, who did his best to remain cheerful in the face of humiliation. It was just a few weeks ago that his players were making a bid for Europe’s mighty Champions League, only to lose 3-2 to Follo in Norway’s own important Cup semi-final.

A strong fighting spirit and three impressive goals sent Follo to the prestigious Cup Final which plays out annually in November with royalty in the stands. Rosenborg took the lead twice, but Follo equalized and in the 114th minute Mads Clausen scored the match winner.

“This is completely wild,” yelled Clausen when it was all over, as Follo’s fans cheered and cried with joy.

The impossible proved possible
The game began as expected with Rosenborg taking control of the field. After five minutes Markus Henriksen booted the ball into the top corner of the opposition goal.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) carried live coverage of the match from Follo's small, unlikely stadium in Ski, where the team's pink uniforms were for a good cause. Rosenborg's black uniforms proved appropriate. PHOTO: NRK/Views and News

More scoring opportunities followed for the visiting team, but a seeming lack of focus meant that they failed to connect. According to news website abcnyheter.no, Rade Prica and Fredrik Winsnes should have scored during the first half of the match.

Towards the end of the first half, Follo got a better grip on the game and it was not undeserved when Benjamin Dahl Hagen scored four minutes before the half-time break.

Seconds later, Rosenborg put the ball into Follo’s net, but the referee disallowed the goal because of an offside infringement, leaving the score 1-1 at half-time.

‘Highly entertaining’
The pink-clad Follo team got off to the better start in the second half, which Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) called “highly entertaining,” but failed to score until Follo lost control of the ball to Rosenborg star Steffen Iversen, who helped his team pull ahead 1-2.

Rosenborg held the lead for only 12 minutes. Their defenders lost focus and Follo’s Eirik Markegård scored to the joy of the local fans: A record crowd of 4,508 at the small stadium in the town of Ski.

Cheered on by enthusiastic supporters, the Follo team mobilized more energy while the visiting favourites seemed shaken by the home team equalizer. Despite this, the score was still 2-2 at the end of the second half, making overtime necessary.

By this time Follo was tired and the Rosenborg players created scoring opportunities. They failed to turn into goals, however, and Follo’s coach Hans-Erik Eriksen sent in Clausen’s “fresh legs,” which kicked in the winning goal.

The excitement was still not over. During the final minutes Rosenborg had a goal disallowed because of hand ball rule. This sent Rosenborg back to Trondheim defeated.

Trondheim in mourning
Trondheim’s biggest newspaper Adresseavisen covered its first page with black, mourning their local heroes’  loss.

Follo will now face off against the other semi-final winner, Strømsgodset from Drammen, which beat Odd Grenland 2-0. Before the Cup Final at Oslo’s Ullevaal Stadium on November 14, the Follo team will have to decide whether to play in their usual blue and white colours. The pink uniforms they wore for the match against Rosenborg were in support of the fight against breast cancer.

The victory is especially fortunate for Follo, as the NOK 2 million it get for going to the final will cover more than half the club’s NOK 3.5 million debts. The Follo club is relatively modestly funded, with all of its players collectively earning only a little more than half of what Rosenborg’s Iversen earns alone, NOK 5 million (USD 833,000).

Gracious in defeat, Rosenborg’s coach Eggen congratulated the winners. “Follo played well and as we played only at half our potential throughout the match, they won,” Eggen told newspaper Aftenposten.

Views and News from Norway/Sven Goll
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Norwegian video from after the semi-final:   http://www.abcnyheter.no/node/117482