TALLINN - The Estonian Football Association has rewarded Dutch coach Jelle Goes with a two-year contract extension after an impressive start in the job that saw Estonia finish in fourth position in its World Cup qualifying group.
Goes replaced his compatriot, Arno Pijpers, last autumn as the national coach, having initially worked under him as the EJL's Technical Director of Coaching Education, as well as taking charge of the Estonian Under-21 team.
"I saw no reason to decline the offer," Goes told local media. "I've worked in Estonia for five years now and really like it here. We've been developing slowly but surely, and I would like to continue to be involved. The group of players and background staff have incredible team spirit - it's a pleasure to work here."
Goes got off to a good start as coach, leading Estonia to a notable 2-2 draw in Latvia for his first game. Impressive performances followed in World Cup qualifiers against Slovakia, Russia and Portugal, but the undoubted highlight of Goes' time in charge was the 2-1 win against fierce rivals Latvia in September, which helped Estonia finish fourth in the group with an all-time best of 17 points.
Goes also added that it was very important to continue training coaches and to develop youth soccer. Janno Kivisild and Marko Kristal continue as assistant coaches and Tim Carter continues as goalkeeping coach.
After being rather unceremoniously dumped by the Estonian Football Association, former Estonian coach Arno Pijpers is being tipped as the number one candidate for the vacant position of Malta's national coach, despite the fact that Malta thrashed Estonia 5-2 in February of last year.
Meanwhile, Andres Oper, a player who has been particularly central to Goes' success, was voted 2005 Estonian Player of the Year by the nation's leading sportswriters. The 28-year-old, who has scored five goals since Goes took over, received almost twice as many votes as runner-up, FC TVMK Tallinn's Tarmo Neemelo, adding the accolade to previous wins in 1999 and 2002. The Roda JC striker notched up an astonishing 27 out of 32 votes.
The award rounds off a tumultuous year for Oper, who went through an unsettled spell with FC Torpedo Moskva before joining Dutch side Roda JC in the summer. The move seemed to invigorate Oper with a new sense of confidence as he scored four goals in seven games for his club as well as five international goals.