A hastily assembled reserve national football team was only minutes away from beating Austria Wednesday night, and enjoying lots of praise on Thursday. The young team members, most of whom had never played a national match, scored first and ended the Nations League match in a 1-1 tie.
The thrilling match followed a turbulent weekend that harmed the reputation of Norwegian football, when national team officials tried to avoid strict Corona regulations to be able to play against Romania in Bucharest on Sunday. The government put an end to that plan, since all national team members had been exposed to one player’s confirmed Covid-19 infection.
The national team members were then allowed to travel back to their professional clubs around an otherwise Corona-closed continent, also a controversial decision, while Norway’s football federation scrambled to mount an entirely new team to play the scheduled match against Austria. They did, and the reserve team’s members regained respect by coming together quickly, playing well together and scoring when Veton Berisha found Ghayas Zahid who nailed the goal. Austria didn’t recover until three minutes into overtime.
“I’m just so proud of the entire team and how the support apparatus fixed it all within just one day,” the “emergency team’s” captain, Mats Møller Dæhli, told newspaper VG. “It’s just fantastic.”