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Final push for the gold

The current season for Brann can be summed up with pretty much only one word, disappointing. Brann failed to impress twice during the initial half of the season, when they lost to Beer-frogs and long time rivals Stord. But, with a pretty fortunate turn of events, Brann might be able to make an amazing eleventh-hour comeback, and lift the trophy in the air in the end anyways. But for that to happen, Brann has to beat Beer-frogs in the final series round, in what could be a season finale never seen before.

Coach Draheim had this to say about the current situation:

“The loss for Stord was a tough one to take for the lads, they’ve never beaten us before in any official competitions, so this wasn’t something we expected at all. But we got back up on our legs, and defeated them in the return fixture, so all that remains now is to win the final game against Beer-frogs, and we can finally take a well-deserved breath of air after promoting to the fourth division”.

In other news, Brann have begun their qualification run for the GL X Masters. So far, they’ve claimed two wins, against FC X-Team and NYC Peregrines. They’ve also played Clan Phoenix away, in a game they lost 1-5. Brann barely failed to qualify for the GL IX Masters, and are for sure having their aims locked at some tasty GL gold.


Bouncin’ back up

The couple of seasons have generally been a tough time for anyone affiliated with Brann. After their promotion to the 4th division back in GS 56, they rarely ended up with a strong season, and usually just barely managed to keep their heads above the water. After their third season in the fourth division, the situation was critical. Brann avoided the direct relegation by a mere two points, and something drastic had to be done. The board initiated negotiations with the HFA, and the team got moved from the IV.43 series to the IV.21 series. This proved to be an incredible decision, because the very next season, Brann had a record-breaking cup run where they made it to the 5th round of the national cup, and finished 2nd in the league. The fans were ecstatic, the local newspapers cherished the Brann board, and things seemed to have been solved. However, this euphoria would prove to be very temporary. Brann was back in the relegation quicksand the next season, finishing 6th, now only a single point above the first direct relegation spot. The local newspapers and the fans were quick to turn on the Brann board, and demanded something drastic to happen, once again. Under heavy pressure, the board made a decision that in retrospect might have been way to rushed. They decided to let club legend, long-time captain, and fan favorite Jes ‘Kniksen’ Steinicke off his duties as head coach.

Inevitably, this created a huge split among the Brann fans. Some thought this was just the change the club needed, and even though Steinicke was a club legend, that didn’t justify the poor results. The other fans had a completely different view on the matter. They thought the board had failed to identify the root of the problem. In their opinion, the leadership and influence Steinicke had over the squad were still very important, and if someone were to be sacked, it should be the director of football, otherwise known as “the Phantom”. The shadowy figure has remained in the dark since his first and only public appearance some seasons back, and it seems there’s not many in the club that really know much about him. All we know is that he was responsible for both the temporary leave for Steinicke back then, and the sacking of him in GS 61. This isn’t much to draw a conclusion from, but may “the Phantom” have some kind of grudge against the guy that served the club for a quarter of a century?

Regardless, the sacking of Steinicke didn’t appear to do very much, as Brann finished 8th that season, and got relegated. The fans, now collectively, almost demanded the heads of the Brann board rolling, and wanted Steinicke to get re-appointed as head coach, and have a public apology from ‘the Phantom’ himself. However, the board denied to interact with public in any way, and left the fans answerless. To some comfort, newly appointed head coach Wojciech Draheim said in a public statement after the relegation that: “I know as much as you guys about this whole situation. As Steinicke’s protégé, I still speak to him regularly, and can promise you that he’s still the head coach of SK Brann, in spirit. We’ll all truck on through this together, and next season, I promise that we’ll win the series, and be back in the 4th division in no time!”

Draheim kept his promise, as Brann went through the whole season undefeated, and finished 1st, 7 points ahead of their rivals Stord. But as that wasn’t good enough, Draheim led Brann to new heights in the Golden League Masters, taking them all the way to the 3rd place final, where they lost to The Warriors of Sahura. With the fans in his corner, Draheim can now prove that he’s on height with his mentor Steinicke, by establishing Brann as a 4th division side, once and for all.


The Last Stand

This is it. At this moment, it’s either make it or break it for Brann. This Sunday morning, they will face off against the Egyptian second division side The Warriors of Sahura, in a game that will decide the bronze medalists in this edition of the GL Masters. The reigning K-League champions AS Uijeongbu 07 proved to be as strong as Brann feared them to be, and will play Mighty Karak Chai FC in the final.

Even though their team got defeated 0-7 in the return leg at Waegari Park last Saturday, the travelling Brann supporters didn’t seem too concerned about the result. They were more focused on giving the players on the field the moral support they needed after such a crushing defeat, and many of them stayed for a while at the arena after the match had concluded:

“Yeah, a group of 40-50 of us walked down to the front row of the stands, and waited for the players to come over to us” a supporter said to our journalist. “With an arena as intimidating as Waegari Park, we figured that the loss was much harder on them than us, so we tried to comfort them. After all, the tournament run was far from over, as we still had a third place final to play.”

Now, as of writing this, there’s a little over half a day left until the match between Brann and the Warriors kicks off. The Brann squad has already spent over a day in Poland, and are optimistic even though they are considered the underdog of this match-up:

“This won’t be easy, no doubt about that. That being said, I’m sure the Warriors won’t take us for granted, and they won’t give us anything for free. But we have to remember, there’s a reason that we have reached this far in this tournament. We’ve never given in, and have fought until the very end every single game. The return leg against Cabuie showed this very clearly, another goal conceded would’ve meant that we had gone to OT, and possibly penalties. That could easily have been the end to our journey” Erik Sörensson said, before leaving for the player bus back to the hotel.

The Brann Journal will be back with an update some time after the third place final has concluded, with or without the bronze medals.