Norway do not quite spring to mind when one considers the greats of international football, but the battling Scandinavians can point to a decent record in recent times. They qualified for the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA™ but fell in the first round by the slimmest of margins. All four teams in their group finished on the same number of points and goal difference, but Norway had scored fewer goals and packed their bags for home.
Four years later at France 1998, Norway chalked up a sensational
victory over eventual finalists Brazil, without doubt the greatest
triumph in their footballing history. It was enough to secure a
berth in the last 16, where Italy proved too much of a hurdle to
The years since, however, have seen the Norwegians struggle to reach the same heights. They failed to qualify for Korea/Japan 2002, finishing fourth in their qualifying section behind Poland, Ukraine and Belarus, and their bid to reach UEFA EURO 2004 also ended in ignominy. They came closer to making Germany 2006, only losing out in a play-off to Czech Republic.
Norway were on course to return to a major finals at EURO 2008, but a 2-1 loss at home to Turkey in their penultimate qualifier ultimately left them one point behind their opponents in the battle for second place in Group C and a ticket to Austria and Switzerland.
Age Hareide, in charge since January 2004, resigned in December 2008 after an indifferent start to qualifying. The following month, Egil Olsen took charge on an interim basis.