Norway’s national men’s football team (landslaget) was relieved and fans were happy after a crucial World Cup qualifying match Friday night against Turkey in Istanbul. It also boosted Norway to second place in its qualifying group, topped only by the mighty Netherlands.
Ståle Solbakken, who has revived the team’s spirits and results since taking over as head coach/manager less than a year ago, sounded extremely satisfied on national radio back home in Norway Saturday morning. The extra point Norway gained on the 1-1 final score literally keeps Norway in the game during the run-up to the World Cup next year.
Solbakken’s players also showed they could pull together when several of Norway’s strongest players were sidelined by injury, not least Erling Braut Haaland. Kristian Thorstvedt scored for Norway, prompting the 22-year-old to claim “Hope lives!” in an interview with state broadcaster NRK. Another player grabbing attention during and after the match was Patrick Berg, who plays professionally for Bodø Glimt and was called in to play for Norway because of all the injuries.
Now the team needs to win all of its three remaining qualifiers against Montenegro, Latvia and the Netherlands. The first one looms Monday night back on home turf in Oslo, against Montenegro.