After wanting so badly to win a World Cup qualifier against the mighty Netherlands, some of Norway’s top women football players left the field Tuesday night in tears. Captain Maren Mjelde didn’t manage to score on a penalty kick and then rival Vivianne Miedema scored, leaving the Netherlands with a 1-0 victory in overtime.
Disappointment dominated after the match in a huge, sold-out stadium on the Dutch team’s home turf. The loss continued what state broadcaster NRK called a “nightmare” for Norway in the Netherlands, where it lost badly in the European Championships last summer. They were knocked out of competition without scoring a single point and the Netherlands became European champions. The Norwegian women were determined to redeem themselves in the new round of World Cup qualifiers, but lost in the end.
“Sports can be gruesome,” Norwegian head coach Martin Sjögren told NRK when it was all over. “We had fought heroically through the whole match, and we would have deserved to get a point.” His players agreed: “This is extremely sour for us,” said Maria Thorisdottir, who’s also the daughter of the coach of Norway’s winning men’s handball team. “We worked well as a team and did everything we planned. The fact that they got that goal in overtime feels like a slap in the face.”
The Norwegian women otherwise have done well in the early round of qualifiers, beating both Northern Ireland and Slovakia so far. “There are lots of matches ahead,” Thorisdottir noted. “We’ve shown we can match the Netherlands and now we can just wish them welcome to Norway next year.”