'There's a chance to go to the Euros' - So much for Pukki to look forward to with City and Finland
PUBLISHED: 12:13 25 October 2018 | UPDATED: 13:45 25 October 2018
As he continues his work to recover from injury, Canaries striker Teemu Pukki spoke to David Freezer about his season so far and the unexpected possibility of a chance to qualify for Euro 2020 with Finland.
It may be frustrating to be watching on from the sidelines at the moment but Teemu Pukki has much to look forward to with club and country this season.
The clinical striker missed the 2-1 wins over Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa in the past week due to a hamstring injury picked up while on international duty with Finland.
Pukki is hoping he can be in contention for the games at Bournemouth and Sheffield Wednesday next week but is unlikely to feature against Brentford on Saturday.
Victory over Villa on Tuesday night secured a sixth win in eight league games to keep Daniel Farke’s team in the top-six mix, thanks to Jordan Rhodes stepping in during Pukki’s absence, scoring both the goals against Villa to notch his seventh in all competitions this season.
The Finn remains top scorer in the league for City though, with five goals, one more than his fellow striker.
While life in Norfolk has started brightly for the former Celtic and Schalke attacker, he had also been enjoying success on the international scene.
Winning goals in 1-0 victories over Hungary and Estonia in the Uefa Nations League during the first Championship break were followed by repeating the trick away to Estonia, before limping off in the early stages of a 2-0 home win over Greece.
That has left Finland top of Group C2 and needing just a point from games in Greece and Hungary during next month’s break to secure promotion and a place in the European Championship qualification play-offs – having never previously qualified for a major tournament.
“We have had some hard times during my time in the national team and now we finally keep winning,” said Pukki, who has 14 goals and 65 caps on his Finland record.
“So it’s always an honour to go away with the national team – and especially now when we have something to play for!
“One point against Greece or Hungary, both away so it’s not going to be easy, but I think with the confidence we have it is possible.”
Of a possible Euro 2020 play-off place, he added: “We have never been and it doesn’t mean yet that if we win the group we will be in the Euros.
“But that’s something I have never experienced with the national team, to win something, to win the group, and there’s a chance to go to the Euros because of this.”
Pukki was speaking at Park Farm Country Hotel, as he officially opened two new Scandinavian-style lodges for the Canaries’ official hotel partner.
He also presented a signed home shirt to the Hethersett hotel’s charity partner for the year, Keeping Abreast, to help them raise funds and spoke about how well he is settling into Norfolk life since signing on a free transfer this summer.
“I have a fiancé and a small baby, and they also like the city. We haven’t had so much time to see much because there are so many games but we like it,” Pukki said.
“The weather has been crazy good as well, so that’s been a big plus!
“It’s not the biggest city, I’ve lived in pretty big cities before, but it’s more quiet and I actually like that. It’s a nice city.”
Park Farm is where Farke’s team hold all their pre-match preparations, briefings and build-up to matches, nearby to the club’s Colney Training Centre – and has recently added the two very fashionable lodges to its offering for guests.
“I like them, they’re really nice looking lodges and reminds me a little bit of home,” Pukki said after having a look around. “It’s really cool to have this kind of stuff here.”
However, the Finn was also smiling as he isn’t actually from Scandinavia – although did live in Denmark for almost four years while playing for Brondby, before signing for City on a free transfer this summer.
“I wanted to say we are not technically Scandinavia but we are pretty similar people!” Pukki added with a chuckle.
“The language is totally different, that’s probably the biggest difference between Scandinavian and Finnish people.”
As long as the striker can return to fitness and get back on the goal trail, Canaries fans won’t mind where he’s from.
• Pukki’s full interview was broadcast during last night’s Pink Un Show, which can be viewed above