Former New York Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe is the new coach for the Finnish national team. The 63-year Swede was presented by the Finnish FA on Wednesday.
Backe will take charge of the team on 1 January 2016. Finland is out of the race to qualify for the European Championship in France next summer, and Backe will replace Mixu Paatelainen who got sacked in June. Until Backe’s arrival, Markku Kanerva, Mika Nurmela and Jonathan Johansson will lead the Finns through the rest of the Euro 2016 qualifiers.
“I look forward to start coaching a team again,” Backe said at a press conference. “I’ve had some offers the last couple of years, but this was a challenge I wanted to take on.”
After leaving the Red Bulls in 2012, Backe has been working as a pundit for Swedish TV, along with being an advisor for Division-2 side Linkoping City.
Backe has prior experience from the international game, as he was Sven-Goran Eriksson’s assistant coach during his stint with Mexico.
“I wanted to go back into a national team role,” Backe said. “I really enjoyed the time in Mexico.”
Backe admitted that he’s looking at fellow Swedish coach Lars Lagerback who is on the brink of taking Iceland to the Euros next summer, and believes his recipe is the one to follow if Finland is to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“I believe anything is possible,” Backe said. “You only have to look at Iceland to see that it’s possible to get results. The players have to be in good form, play for their clubs, and create a team where everyone trusts each other. We shall play unselfish soccer like a Scandinavian team.”
Backe coached the New York Red Bulls between 2010 – 2012.