Norway’s national football squad can now embark on a long “winter holiday” from the pressures of qualifying matches for the European Championships in 2016 (Euro 2016). And after beating Azerbaijan in Baku Sunday evening, their Euro hopes are still very much alive.
The relatively uneventful match ended with a score of 1-0 in Norway’s favour, after Håvard Nordtveit kicked in the lone goal, 25 minutes into the match. The victory left Norway with nine out of 12 possible points so far in the run-up to the European Championships. Commentators claimed that was respectable, while noting that the toughest matches lie ahead.
There won’t be another Euro qualifier until March 28, though, when Norway will meet Croatia. Then they’ll meet Azerbaijan again, on home turf this time, on June 12, before a string of tough matches looms in September and October against other opponents in their qualifying group: Bulgaria, Malta and Italy. Norway already has lost to both Italy and Malta, but the national team has regained some self-confidence since.
The victory over Azerbaijan “shows that we’re able to hang in there,” coach Per-Mathias Høgmo told newspaper Aftenposten. “That gives us some very important self-confidence. We know that our players are really developing both in their own (professional) clubs and on the national team. That’s very good indeed.”