Europe: Ekranas, Flora and Skonto look ahead to Baltic Champions’ Cup
The Baltic Champions’ Cup, the first of many a pre-season indoor tournament in Eastern Europe in the next two months, takes place in the Olympic Sports Centre in the Latvian capital of Riga this weekend in a mini-tournament exclusive to the national champions of the three domestic leagues in the Baltic States.
Lithuanian champions FK Ekranas Panevėžys already have experience in this competition having won the only other edition to have previously taken place in 2006. At that time the tournament was played outdoors and was a precursor to what would become the Triobet Baltic League (TBL) which is now the more established cross-border football tournament in that part of the world. Nonetheless FK Ekranas, who got the better of Liepājas Metalurgs and TVMK Tallinn in the inaugural event five years ago, now hope to add the scalps of Skonto Riga and Flora Tallinn to the list as they set about defending their crown.
The year 2010 was a great one for Latvian champions Skonto Riga and their Estonian counterparts Flora Tallinn who are both back in the big time following their first league title successes for six and seven years respectively. As well as this tournament they will participate in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Cup in January before renewing battle in the TBL come April. For all three clubs there is the added bonus of UEFA Champions League qualifiers to come this year so each of the teams involved will be very active in trans-national football comeptition in 2011.
This weekend’s tournament sees all of the teams play each other once only over three days. Here is the fixture list and local kick-off times for the event:
Friday 07/01/2011: Skonto Riga v FK Ekranas Panevėžys 17:45
Saturday 08/01/2011: FK Ekranas Panevėžys v Flora Tallinn 13:15
Sunday 09/01/2011: Flora Tallinn v Skonto Riga 13:45