Finland are still searching for the Holy Grail of a place at the FIFA World Cup™, but recent evidence would suggest they are getting closer. They finished third in their very strong qualifying groups for South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014, missing out to Germany and Russia in the former and Spain and France in the latter.
The Finnish ranks have undergone something of an extended period of transition. The spine of the team has gradually been replaced, with talisman Jari Litmanen making way for skilful playmaker Alexei Eremenko, Niklas Moisander has taken over from defensive stalwart Petri Pasanen and Teemu Pukki is the new focal point in attack, replacing veteran forward Mikael Forssell as the main man up front.
Hans Backe was named Finland coach in August 2015. He previously managed FC Copenhagen, who under his stewardship won three Danish championships, and acted as a deputy coach to Sven-Goran Eriksson at Manchester City in 2007/08. The Swede's most recent post as a coach was at New York Red Bulls from 2010-2012.
4 – Goals scored by Mixu Paatelainen when playing for Finland against San Marino in 1994, it remains a Finnish record.
The former stars
Jari Litmanen, Sami Hyypia