ULLEVÅL (VG) Since the year 2000, the last time the football boys qualified for a championship, the Norwegian women’s football team has been in 12 finals. Now they are almost ready for their 13th championship.
We have to go back to the last millennium last time the national team played the World Cup. That was in 1998.
Two years later, the Norwegian men played three matches in the group stage of the European Championships in the Netherlands and Belgium. Since then, they have stayed at home. Is it any wonder the football women feel sorry for the boys?
– I wish they could do it, and I was sure they would do it this time. I was disappointed and sad on their behalf that it did not work, and I think the other girls were too. We had given them a championship, says Caroline Graham Hansen.
– If I had played on the men’s national team, I might not have been here with so many matches, says Maren Mjelde,
She is probably right about that. John Arne Riise holds the record for the men’s national team with 110 matches.
– I really treat them to participate in a championship and hope they manage it on the next occasion. We know how huge it is. Qualifying matches and private matches are one thing, but playing a championship is very special. You get a completely different experience of being part of something big. If you go all the way, you are together for two months. That’s the coolest thing you can do, says the national team captain.
The Chelsea pro does not have to travel so terribly far since the European Championships in 2022 are played in England. Norway only needs one point away against Wales to qualify already on Tuesday.
Outside the offices of the Norwegian Football Association at Ullevaal Stadium, the women’s national team coach Martin Sjögren admits that he feels sorry for colleague Lars Lagerbäck and the men’s national team.
– It was a pity that they did not go to the championship now. We had needed it both for their sake but for the whole association and Norwegian football. The only thing we can do is work hard to take new steps, that we can participate and rise from the World Cup in France where we reached a quarter final, says Sjögren at the same time as he comes with a warning:
– It is not easy to get to a championship and the competition is only getting tougher. It will also be on the women’s side. Although we are spoiled by the fact that women play championships often, we can not count on it happening all the time.