With only the first third of the season gone, SJK already looked like no one could threaten their run to Veikkausliiga. Last round they trashed relegation favorites AC Kajaani 1-7 away from home. After the match the home team filed a protest because SJK didn't have enough home grown players in the match squad. The HG-rule states that at least half of the players in a match day squad need to be "home grown" i.e. having spent 3 years between the ages 12 and 21 in a Finnish club. SJK had only 7 HG-players in a squad of 16 and the FA has ruled AC Kajaani as the winner with a score of 3-0. SJK will hold a press conference after Saturday's match about the issue and they'll most likely appeal against the ruling. If the decision holds, battle for promotion would become quite interesting again. 2nd placed Haka would be 4 points away and 3rd placed Ilves 5 points trailing behind the division leaders with a match less played.
This match will without a doubt be a key fixture for both teams, even a bit more for the visiting side. A loss here and they can pretty much kiss goodbye to their promotion hopes. Both teams are in good form and are unbeaten in their last 5 matches (on the pitch, that is). Attacking right back Gert Kams (7/3) returns to SJK lineup after an injury. Midfielder Chris Cleaver (9/2) will miss this match due to a suspension. Midfielder Aki Sipilä (7/0) will miss the rest of the season after breaking his leg, goalkeeper Luis Fernando hasn't played any matches so far and most likely is out for the season.
Ilves have a clean bill of health, only absentees are defensive midfielder Antti Ojanperä (11/0) who is suspended and defender Olli Vakkala (9/0) who is abroad. Ilves head coach Mika Malinen has used forward Aapo Lappalainen (11/2) as left back lately instead Olli Vakkala. They will most likely start with a more defensive approach against a stronger team and a defense specialist would probably work better in that position, next available options haven't played too much this year though.
Last meeting between the sides earlier this season ended with SJK taking a 2-4 away win. Although the stakes are high, both teams have enough ability to score at least once.