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Monday, August 22, 2005 

Dominant FH Hafnarfjördur savour title defence

FH Hafnarfjördur have become the first side to secure a place in next season's UEFA Champions League after regaining the Icelandic Premier League title with three games to spare after opening an unassailable 14-point lead.

Since they kicked off with a resounding 3-0 victory at Keflavík in May, FH have not looked back. The team, who claimed their maiden championship last year, have taken maximum points from their subsequent 14 matches and a 2-0 home win against closest rivals Valur Reykjavík last night capped a dominant campaign.

"To be honest, I never expected us to win 15 games in a row," FH coach Ólafur Kristjánsson said. "This is more than we hoped for. But we're not stopping here - we are going to win the last three games too." Should they do so, they will complete the season without dropping a point, while stretching their unbeaten league run to 34 matches - a record dating back to May 2004.

These are halcyon days for Hafnarfjördur, and a stark change in fortunes for a side who - like Valur - were playing second division football five years ago. The upturn is especially felt by Audun Helgason who returned to FH this season, ten years after leaving the club following relegation. "Ten years ago I wept with sorrow but now I'm crying with joy," the Iceland defender said.

There will be no double for FH, however, after a 9-8 penalty shoot-out defeat by Fram Reykjavík in the semi-finals of the Icelandic Cup. And Kristjánsson believes there is still room for improvement: "We were not happy losing against Fram and we didn't do well in the UEFA Chmapions League [being eliminated by Azerbaijani club PFC Neftchi in the first qualifying round]. But we have a lot of young talent and should be able to keep up the good work."

Despite the 2-0 loss yesterday, Valur remain second and can look forward to a cup final against Fram. ÍA Akranes, who have lost winger Hafþór Vilhjálmsson to a broken arm, lie third after a narrow win against fourth-placed Keflavík on Sunday.

With the title destined for FH, the teams below are already seeking to strengthen their squads for next term. KR Reykjavík have signed Croatian defender Dalibor Pauletic and Slovenian midfielder Erik Krzisnik, while American youngster Christopher Vorenkamp has joined ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar. Another promising midfielder Johan Karlefjord has moved to Fram, with Faroese striker Símun Samuelsson switching to Keflavík.

source: uefa.com.


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