Norwegians have faith in their team

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As Norway’s national football team (landslaget) got ready for another important match Friday night, a new public opinion poll indicated that half the population has faith in their pro-football players and thinks they will qualify for European championship action.

The poll conducted by research firm Respons for newspaper Aftenposten showed that 48 percent of Norwegians questioned think their national football squad will qualify to play in the European Championships. Another 32 percent didn’t think they’d go that far, while 20 percent were unsure.

A spate of injury before Friday night’s qualifying match against Iceland may be contributing to the uncertainty. Long-time star John Arne Riise, who currently plays professionally for Fullham in England, had to pull out on Thursday but hopes he’ll be back in action for the next crucial qualifier against Denmark on Tuesday.

“Drillo (the team’s popular coach) gave me a pat on the shoulder and a hug,” said Riise after having to drop Friday night’s match. With Riise out of action, Egil “Drillo” Olsen’s left flank lost another star after Morten Gamst Pedersen also had to withdraw earlier in the week. Espen Ruud and Jonathan Parr were called in as replacements.

Team veteran John Carew has also been under pressure, after not having played a full match for a long time following professional team turbulence. He won’t be starting on Friday, replaced by Mohammed “Moa” Abdellaoue.

The Icelanders also have a tendency to cause trouble for Norway, which hasn’t beat them on home turf for 31 years. “Iceland is physically strong, hungry for honour and well-organized, a bit like us,” Norwegian team captain Brede Hangeland told newspaper Aftenposten earlier this week. “They know us well and they love to play against Norway.

“We must meet them with respect. This will be tough.”

The action gets underway at Ullevål Stadium in Oslo at 8pm.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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