ANOTHER TOUGH YEAR ON THE CARDS FOR ULL/KISA

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>Ull/Kisa endured a tough 2016 season as they returned to the OBOS Ligaen after just one year in the 2.Divisjon. Injury issues marred the sides’ year and their preparation for the upcoming 2017 season has been less than ideal with Ull/Kisa losing 4 of their 6 friendly games so far, could the side potentially be relegation candidates this year?>

(Photo: Digitalsports)

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>Ull/Kisa confused me somewhat last year. On paper, their squad was arguably one of the strongest in the league, with the club boasting attackers such as Espen Standal, Nicolay Solberg and Ole Kristian Langas and top quality defensive players like Thomas Braaten and Vetle Dragsnes. >

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>However, a mix of poor luck with injuries and below par performances from the side meant Ull/Kisa were embroiled in a relegation battle last year, surviving by the skin of their teeth as they beat high flying Kongsvinger 3-2 on the last day of the season. >

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>Only the Ull/Kisa players and staff will know what went on behind closed doors last season, but the multiple long term injuries to key players could be put down to either bad luck or poor physical training. The side lost Ole Kristian Langas, Espen Standal, Jonas Fjeldberg and Markus Furseth to injury for most of the season and struggled with many other small injuries to other players too. >

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>This really set Ull/Kisa back and despite some good summer recruiting from the club which saw Riki Alba and Martin Falkeborn join the side, the side really struggled in the second half of last season and go into 2017 with an almost threadbare squad. >

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>Over 10 first team players have left the club since the closing of last season, with Ull/Kisa only signing 6 players to cover these outgoings. There are clear gaps in the squad that need filling. The sides’ pre season form has been less than impressive with their only two wins coming against 2.Divisjon opposition in the form of Honefoss and KFUM Oslo.>

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>The 7-1 loss to Sarpsborg really demonstrated how far behind Ull/Kisa are compared to the other OBOS Ligaen clubs. This was the sides’ first pre season game and whilst the loss could be put down to rustiness on the player’s’ part, it was clear that the gap in quality between the two teams was simply too large. Sarpsborg are a strong side, no doubt, but many larger OBOS Ligaen clubs would have fancied their chances of snatching at least a draw against the side.>

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>The main worry with Ull/Kisa is that if Ole Kristian Langas gets injured once more, who will score goals for the side? Niklas Castro has been brought in from Valerenga for the last two friendly matches, but even if he is signed on loan he will not offer the same goal threat as Langas. Castro is a talented forward but to expect 10-15 league goals from him in his first full season would be ridiculous. When you look to the midfield, only Kristoffer Odemarksbakken is capable of scoring 5-10 goals in the league, players such as Aas, Jorstad and Torp all seem more defensively minded. >

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>A lot of faith could be placed in the two new attacking signings’ Ole Andreas Nesset and Niklas Sandberg. Both players, but Nesset in particular, are capable of scoring goals at this level but the main worry with these signings is simply down to the lack of experience shared between the two. Only Sandberg has played in the OBOS Ligaen previously with Sandnes, but failed to score in his 21 appearances for the side. Nesset has scored many goals at a lower level, but is as of yet untested in the OBOS Ligaen. >

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>When it comes to the defence, Ull/Kisa look equally as weak right now. Despite the two new signings of Nikolas Walstad and Emmanuel Troudart, the lack of good quality backup in this area is astounding. Ciise Aden Abshir was signed from KFUM Oslo and this is a signing i simply do not understand. In fleeting moments last season, Ciise looked like the real deal; a well travelled defender used to this kind of level of football. But, all too often Ciise looked at sea when facing up to the better OBOS Ligaen attackers and was exposed multiple times. I am told that Ciise had previously played as a forward before reinventing himself as a centre back and this fact became all too obvious throughout the course of last season as Ciise’s positional sense really let him down in defence.>

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>I am sure that Ull/Kisa manager Vegard Skogheim knows of these issues and is already planning to remedy the situation before the beginning of the season but it certainly seems the manager has left himself a lot of work to do in a very short amount of time.>

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>It would be a massive shame to see Ull/Kisa get relegated. They are an ambitious side and I would like to see their renovated Jessheim stadium in the OBOS Ligaen for the next few years at least. But, as of the present day, there are simply too many squad related issues for the side to address before the season begins and I worry that Ull/Kisa may find themselves cast adrift in the league. >