Norway’s national men’s football team has never been ranked so low in international standings as it is now, at 87th place last week, but more than 12,000 fans still defied the poor record and pouring rain over the weekend to cheer on their troops. A missed opportunity to score by two Norwegian players, who found themselves suddenly alone with the Czech Republic’s goalkeeper, cost Norway what could have been a morale-boosting victory.
The match was another qualifier for the next World Cup, and Norway fell out of the running long ago. New head coach Lars Lagerbäck is trying to revive the team, though, and they all badly wanted to win. The match ended in a 1-1 tie.
The missed opportunity came when Norway’s Tarik Elyounoussi, who otherwise played well, and Alexander Søderlund were in scoring position but failed to exploit it. “I saw Søderlund come but didn’t manage to think quickly enough,” Elyounoussi told newspaper Dagsavisen afterwards. I’m not egotistical and I have apologized.”
The team was already getting ready on Monday for another match, this one a friendly face-off against Sweden, on Tuesday. Lagerbäck, who is Swedish himself and has coached his homeland’s squad, said he thought it would be “cool” to meet Sweden, and planned several changes in his strategy as he tries to rebuild Norway’s team to its former glory. He admitted he was angry and frustrated that his players missed a great scoring chance but told reporters that “we all make mistakes.”