Last weekend’s thrill of victory for Norway’s national men’s football team turned to the agony of defeat on Tuesday, after they played what commentators were calling their worst match in recent memory. Their 2-0 loss to Switzerland seems to have ended any chance of playing in the World Cup in Brazil next year.
The national team had beaten Cyprus in another World Cup qualifier on Friday, raising their spirits and keeping them in the running for a spot in the planet’s biggest football tournament. Meeting Switzerland’s squad, made up of many who play professionally for top clubs like Juventus and Bayern München, was another matter. Switzerland was simply much better, and already seems assured a spot in the World Cup as leader of their qualifying group.
“We tried as best we could but we weren’t good enough,” Norwegian coach Egil “Drillo” Olsen admitted after the match to TV2. Newspaper Aftenposten wrote that the entire evening on home turf at Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo was probably “the most embarrassing” for Drillo ever. Player Espen Ruud also took much of the blame on himself, for failing to defend better again “his man,” Fabian Schär. Ruud ended up paving the way for Schär to get two free kicks that ended in goals.
Drillo was disappointed but wouldn’t blame any specific players himself. He added that it was “mature” of Ruud to apologize for his fumbles.
Norway may still end up as second in its qualifying group but most agreed its World Cup dreams are over. The next qualifying match is set for October 11 against Slovenia with the last on October 15 against Iceland.