There is nothing arrogant about Caroline Seger. The Sweden captain is fiercely determined, focused and committed, but certainly not over-confident ahead of Wednesday’s semi-final against Japan in Frankfurt. Yet she does believe that the 3-1 victory over Australia has broken down a mental barrier for her and her team-mates, which could spur them on to greater things.
“This is our time, I feel, and everything is going our way,” she told FIFA.com. “We have more self-belief and we’re playing extremely well together. We believe in what we’re doing and so far it’s worked all the time so we don’t want to change anything. We have had a little bit of luck too and that’s what good teams need. We just want to keep on doing what we’ve been doing.
“We’ve come this far so why stop now? You need to be hungry for a final and we are. I think we can really do this and mentally, I think we took a huge step in winning the quarter-final. That was an enormous step for us, because we’d never made it from the quarter-finals under Thomas [Dennerby] before. So now we just keep on going and hopefully that can lead us all the way.”
The 26-year-old has been a regular for the Blagult since 2006, appearing in the EUROs of 2005 and 2009, the 2008 Olympics, as well as the last FIFA Women’s World Cup. With regards to Wednesday’s match, Seger has never been part of a team which has defeated the Nadeshiko and so has the highest respect for the Asians.
“Japan have improved, like us, with every game,” she continued. “They’re a great team, I love watching them. They’re so skilful and they play fun soccer. They look so relaxed getting away from tight spaces. I think, though, our counter-attacks are going to be so crucial. Especially Lotta [Schelin], because she can run past any defensive line and I think that’s going to be our key in this game.”
Seger was one of the first to congratulate Schelin following her goal on Sunday, her first in this FIFA Women’s World Cup and thinks that there could be more to come from the Lyon forward.
“The good part about Lotta in this tournament has been that she has created so many opportunities, even if she hadn’t scored,” she said. “She’s been creating more and more, never stopping, and fighting for every chance she’s had. I think that’s something that defines her as a good forward because often if they miss a lot, it gets to their head.
"But Lotta just kept on moving on and I’m so happy for her scoring. It means so much for her but also us as a team. Hopefully that’s going to help her in the next couple of games, believing in herself and having that confidence.”
It seems that wherever Seger has been, she has worn the captain’s armband. Even with her current club, Western New York Flash, which boasts the likes of Marta, Christine Sinclair and Kim Brandao in its squad, it is the Swede who is the skipper – although she is not sure whether that will transfer itself to a head coach’s position one day.
“I think I have leadership in me naturally,” she said. “I try to be an example. I help people if there’s anything I can do. I don’t know if I could be a manager because I think I’m way too nice! I don’t think I could handle putting people on the bench. So if they allow teams to have 40 players on the field, it would make things far easier for me!”
However, the Helsingborg-born star seems to have no problem in consigning family members away from the action. During the group stage her father and grandfather were proudly watching from the stands, but they were dispatched back home when Sweden reached the last eight!
“They’re are often at tournaments, but I told them to go home because every quarter-final they have been to, we’ve lost,” she laughed. “It’s nice to have them here and have their support, but they loved watching the game on Sunday at home too. Hopefully they can come back for a final, that’s the aim!”