One of the strongest nations in women's football, Sweden have qualified for the finals of every FIFA Women's World Cup. Their best performance to date came at the last edition, USA 2003, when Germany only just pipped them to the title with a 2-1 win courtesy of a golden goal. Like the Germans, Sweden also had a change of coach in 2005, with Thomas Dennerby taking over from Marika Domanski-Lyfors.
Dennerby has since blooded a number of promising newcomers, among them Maria Aronsson, Marlene Sjoberg and Elin Ekblom. Nonetheless, the bulk of the squad travelling to the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007 will come from the class of 2003. That includes the likes of Hanna Ljungberg and Victoria Svensson up front, as well as Hanna Marklund, Malin Mostrom and Therese Sjogran, all players with more than 100 international appearances to their name. And the Scandinavians have further talents at their disposal, such as striker Lotta Schelin, whose brace of goals helped secure a crucial victory in the Czech Republic.
Dennerby is working to introduce more flexibility into his team's tactical approach in the run-up to the finals, enabling them to switch from their traditional 4-4-2 formation to a 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 variation as the situation demands. And there is little doubt that the players have the ability to respond. In qualifying they racked up 32 goals - one more even than free-scoring world champions Germany - while conceding just six at the other end. This time around, the team also hopes to be spared the rash of injuries that dogged their progress at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The Swedes got off to a shaky start, only managing a 2-2 draw at home to Iceland in what was Dennerby's first game in charge. However, that would prove to be the only glitch in an otherwise immaculate qualifying campaign.
The team soon got into their stride with a 6-0 hammering of Belarus, before beating Portugal 4-1. In April 2006 they grabbed a hard-fought 3-2 victory away to the Czechs in the key Group 2 encounter.
After that, Portugal (5-1) and Belarus (6-0 again) were duly disposed of before a 4-0 canter ensured there was no repeat of the opening slip-up against Iceland. In the final showdown with the Czechs, two goals from Hana Ljungberg sealed Sweden's place in the finals, and the players celebrated by dousing Dennerby in water.
Thomas Dennerby took over from the long-serving Marika Domanski-Lyfors in the wake of UEFA EURO 2005. Sweden's Coach of the Year for 2004 is determined to continue in the same vein as his predecessor, who now coaches the U-21s as well as working for FIFA in several capacities. Dennerby and Domanski-Lyfors maintain close and regular contact. The coach's declared aims on taking up his post were qualification for China 2007 and the gradual introduction of younger players into the team. Having already achieved the first of these, the second remains a work in progress, and the coach has at his disposal some fine players from an U-21 side recently crowned Nordic champions.
Dennerby played for Stockholm side Hammarby between 1977 and 1985 before ending his career at Sparvagens FF. He also made seven appearances for Sweden's U-21 team, 20 for the U-19s - for whom he scored three goals - and six for the U-17s. As a coach, he took Djurgarden/Alvsjo to two domestic titles and one cup win. His first coaching post was with the men's team at Vartans IK, before he started working with the women as well as the men at Hammarby.
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