The road to Canada
Norway fans had good reason to forgive their team for going down 2-0 at home to the Netherlands in their final match in Group 5 of the European qualifying competition. By the time that meeting took place the Norwegians had already booked their ticket to Canada 2015, thanks to wins in all nine of their previous games in the section. That perfect run included a decisive 2-1 defeat of the Dutch, who pushed Even Pellerud’s side hard but could not prevent them topping the group with a record of 41 goals scored and just five conceded.
Strengths and style
Norway are one of the ever-presents of FIFA Women’s World Cup™, having never failed to qualify for the competition in seven attempts. Habitual favourites thanks to their record, which includes reaching the final in 1991, winning the world title four years later and coming fourth in 1999 and 2007, the Scandinavians have undeniably lost ground to Germany and USA in recent years, through their desire to reach the top again remains intact. Now into their 30s, Trine Bjerke Ronning, Ingvild Stensland and Ingrid Hjelmseth are still at their peak and bring valuable experience to a side spearheaded by the prolific Isabell Herlovsen, with the likes of Ada and Andrine Hegerberg, Caroline Hansen, Emilie Haavi and Guro Reiten providing the new blood.
Pellerud was in charge of Norway at the first two women’s world finals, leading them to the runners-up spot at the first and one step further at the second. The former midfielder returned to the national team dugout in 2012 after spells in men’s football with Lillestrom in Norway and Ikast in Denmark, which were followed by stints in charge of the Canada and Trinidad and Tobago national women’s teams. “I’m calmer and more patient with my players and the staff,” he said. “My role is not the same as it was in the 1990s. Back then I wanted to control everything, but now I delegate more and I have more confidence in my girls and my coaching team.”
FIFA Women's World Cup record
- Canada 2015 is Norway’s seventh appearance in the competition
- Norway's best finish of the tournament was when the were crowned champions at Sweden 1995
What they said
“Teams like Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Scotland didn’t really worry us back in the day but they’re very good sides now. The Norway team has changed too. We’re still physical, well organised and play with the right attitude, but we’re more relaxed on the ball now and more tactically aware,” Even Pellerud, Norway coach