Tippeligaen 2015: Another season of elite football wraps up
Norwegian American Weekly
As the 2015 Tippeligaen season comes to an end, teams battle for the 16 coveted spots in the elite Norwegian football league. While the top clubs qualify for international competitions, the bottom teams face relegation.
For the first time in five years, Rosenborg topped the league and therefore earned a spot in the second qualifying round of the 2016-2017 UEFA Champions League. The team—considered to be Norway’s most successful club—secured the victory with a 3-3 draw against Strømsgodset on October 28.
“There have been tears of joy and everything. It’s good to show that we are not only the biggest club, but also the best,” said defender Mikael Dorsin to C More.
“The foundation for victory has been the hunger, the will, and the morale of this team,” added Kåre Ingebrigtsen proudly.
Strømsgodset and Stabæk followed in second and third, respectively, earning places in the first round qualification of the UEFA Europa League.
On the other end of the table, Mjøndalen and Start competed for the 14th spot; while the 15th and 16th teams face automatic relegation to the 1st Division League, the 14th has the chance to enter the playoff round and stay in the elite league.
It all came down to the final round on November 8, when Mjøndalen faced Viking and Start played against Molde.
It was a tough match for Start, and the team seemed defeated from the very beginning. Molde easily took the lead in the 22nd minute and scored two more goals while Start remained scoreless.
“It was a nightmare of a game,” says Start striker Mads Stokkelien to TV2.
But their 0-3 loss didn’t ensure relegation. If Viking were to beat Mjøndalen by enough points, Start would have a chance at the playoffs—and that’s exactly what happened.
It looked good for Mjøndalen when they scored after eight minutes and led the match for an hour, but Viking came back to score two goals. At this point Mjøndalen would have to score again to have a chance, but instead it was Viking that scored right before the end for a 3-1 win.
“This is painful for us all. We had hope and a good chance,” said Mjøndalen Coach Vegard Hansen to TV2. “We are good, but not good enough. It ends with relegation, but we must endure it.”
Mjøndalen was just promoted to the elite league for 2015 after winning the playoff finals against Brann at the end of last year. Now the team will head back to the 1st Division for the 2016 season.
“It is unbelievable that we get another chance. It was bad, but fortunately Viking won over Mjøndalen. We have to be incredibly happy that we get the opportunity to continue to play in Tippeligaen next year,” added Start’s Stokkelien.
Start ended up with 22 points, just one point ahead of Mjøndalen. In 16th place with only 16 points, Sandefjord also relegated. Leading the 1st Division, Sogndal has been promoted to the elite league for the 2016 season, along with the return of Brann in second place.
The final spot belonged to either Start of Vest-Agder or Jerv of Aust-Agder. Jerv was just promoted from the 2nd Division last year and vastly exceeded expectations this season.
The two Sørlandet teams met each other on Nov. 21 and 25 to determine the final team in the 2016 Tippeligaen.
“It is a dream to everyone in Sørlandet that Jerv and Start meet each other,” said Jerv’s top scorer Ohi Omoijuanfo.
It looked like Start might end their losing streak when Stokkelien scored a goal after 20 minutes in the Nov. 21 match, but Omoijuanfo scored in the 87th minute, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw. In the final match on Nov. 25, Start defeated Jerv 3-1 in a dramatic match with goals by Andreas Hollingen, Espen Børufsen, and Alex De John, securing the coveted final spot.
While the 2015 Tippeligaen is now over, this new batch of teams will be taking the field in just three months—on March 12—for the earliest Tippeligaen season start yet.
This article originally appeared in the Dec. 4, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.