Forward Veera Kauppi is Finland's biggest hope in their dream of WFC gold. Along with her twin sister Oona, Veera Kauppi in the kind of players women's floorball coaches want to see in numbers.
"Players like Veera Kauppi and My Kippilä are in a class of their own in Finland when it comes to controlling the ball", Finland's ever-smiling veteran defender Mia Karjalainen says. "We older ones will just have to do with other strengths".
Just 20 years old, the right-shooting Veera Kauppi has scored an outrageous 235 points in her 85 Finnish league games with twin sister Oona not far behind. In the women's national team Veera's got 26 points in her 24 games and both sisters scored a goal on their first touch in the national team. Both former football stars play for Koovee Tampere, local rival of Classic who have ended their season in the play offs year after year. In the WFC final in Tampere two years ago, Veera Kauppi scored on her first attempt in the decisive penalty shootout but was stopped in the decisive pair by Sweden's goalie Emelie Frisk. "It certainly took a while to get over that night but I had it a bit easier than the others as I had to start preparing for the U19 WFC later that season. And suffering a severe knee injury there effectively stopped sports for me for a while. Yet, I don't think the disappointment has harmed our preparation for Bratislava. it has only shown as what to do even better and given us more determination", Veera Kauppi says.
Finland's balance against Sweden does not exactly hint of success in December. They have recorded no less than 11 straight defeats against the reigning World Champions. "In WFC, it's always a bit different as in lesser games there are new formations and plays being tested. In WFC it's time to bring out the best and even play just two lines if necessary. I believe we can beat Sweden and I hope to get to play them in the final", Kauppi says, with smiling eyes full of confidence.
In the EFT in Malmö, Finland lost 4-7 after a disastrous first period (0-5). "We were behind them from the first shift and when you let Sweden control the ball they get to use their individual skill. Still, we know what happened and we can beat them when it counts." Yet, to get to play Sweden in the final, Finland needs to get there. they have missed the final in 2003 and in 2009, beaten both times in the semi-final by Sweden. Traditionally, Finnish national teams also take Switzerland and Czech Republic very seriously. "Switzerland have two world class lines but not quite the number of top players that I think we or Sweden have. Yet, there are enough dangerous players for us to have to stay alert every second", Veera Kauppi thinks. "The Czechs often lie low in front of their own net and their defense has often proved a tough nut for us to crack. They have big players and a really good first line which means we have our best chances against their other units". In Malmö, both Switzerland and Czech Republic played under their usual level, allowing Finland to take two rather comfortable victories.
Finland's present head coach Lasse Kurronen has not made too much changes as Veera Kauppi's line with center Mira Wickman and right wing Oona Kauppi have played together for quite a while now backed by My Kippilä and Silja Eskelinen. "It has helped a lot to train and play with them since last summer. We know each other well from previous gatherings and juniors' national teams and our styles match nicely." Especially Veera Kauppi and Oona Kauppi seem to find each other with their passes even when there just cannot be any visual possibility to see each other. "There may be a bit of that famous chemistry of twins there"; Veera Kauppi laughs. In Malmö, their line scored nine out of Finland's 16 goals with the Ella Alanko line getting seven and the Katri Luomaniemi unit goalless.