DAVID SMITH - Friday, April 29, 2011
The first round proper of the Norwegian Cup gets underway on Sunday, pitting a host of Americans in the top two divisions of the Norwegian league against a school of minnows.
Holmlia - Stabæk
Mikkel Diskerud and Stabaek should have no problems to reach the next round of the cup competition when they visit fourth-tier Holmlia.
The Blues looked impressive in their 3-1 win over Fredrikstad in league play on Monday, a result which brought them to sixth place in the league standings with five games played.
They will be looking to avoid a repeat of last season's short Cup run where they lost out in the third round to third-tier Tønsberg, however the team from the suburbs of Oslo should do little to stand in their way.
Stabaek is reporting a full squad for the game, although a number of starters could be rested. Holmlia also have a fully healthy squad available.
Eidsvåg - Molde
Josh Gatt and Sean Cunningham could both see action on Sunday as Molde head east to take on Third Division team Eidsvåg.
Gatt has been a regular substitute for Molde over their opening games of the Tippeligaen season, which has seen the team so far manage two wins against two draws and one loss.
Cunningham is still searching for his professional debut with the team after making the bench on several occasions, and will be hoping that the relatively straightforward game against the likely overpowered Eidsvåg will offer the occasion.
For Eidsvåg, the event of simply making the first round proper of the Norwegian Cup is an occasion to celebrate, as the team has never progressed past the early qualifying rounds and is facing a top-level team in meaningful competition for the first time in its history.
Molde's Cup campaign last season was a mixed bag; they had little trouble getting past lower-ranked teams in the first two rounds, but were dumped in the third by eventual Adeccoligaen champions Sogndal, who eventually made it all the way to the quarterfinals.
Both teams are reporting full squads for the game.
Moelven - Ham-Kam
Jonathan Borrajo should be in Ham-Kam's defense on Sunday when they battle Moelven IL for a place in the next round of the Cup.
The minnows from the fourth level of the Norwegian soccer pyramid battled through the first two qualification rounds to reach their showdown with the newly promoted team.
While the two teams are hardly historical rivals, the 20-mile distance between the two makes it somewhat a derby of minnows.
HamKam have fared poorly so far in league play with their three points through four games putting them inside the relegation zone, but will nevertheless be confident of a win against a team playing two divisions below.
They drew Bodø/Glimt in Monday night action, but will be embarrassed should they not manage to win over 90 minutes against Moelven.
Both teams are expecting full squads for the game.
Drammen - Hønefoss
Steve Clark could get the start in goal on Sunday when Hønefoss drive south to visit Drammen.
Hønefoss will be looking to improve on their 2010 Cup run which took them to the third round where they were only beaten on penalties, and they will hope to have few problems against Drammen, who are playing two divisions below.
The team has had a solid start to their Adeccoligaen campaign, with their two wins and two draws through the first four being enough to give them a share of first place.
They posted a shut-out 2-0 win over Løv-Ham on Monday, which should give them enough momentum, to surge past their southern neighbors.
Clark and his teammates should not take their opponents lightly, as the team has won all three of their games in the Third Division so far this season.
They were officially formed in 2008 as a merger between two local clubs, one of which, Åskollen FK, has experienced a number of promotions through the lower ranks of the Norwegian pyramid to reach the fourth-tier.
Neither team is reporting any absences for the game.
Backup keeper Colin Burns will hope to be called on to occupy Sandefjord's goal on Sunday when they visit fifth-tier HFIF.
Mjøndalen bench players Rhett Bernstein and Kyle Helton could be called into action on Sunday when the team takes on fourth-tier Urædd.
Sogndal backup keeper Joseph Bendik might see action on Sunday as the team visits fourth-level Saga.