Caroline Seger looks up for a moment and over at her Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Josephine Henning. Both break into broad smiles. The experienced Sweden midfielder has forgotten to mention Germany as one of the nations that could challenge for the trophy at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™.
After the light-hearted moment between colleagues, the interview with www.sc.qa in Doha continues, and it becomes increasingly apparent that the 30-year-old has firmly set her sights on improving Sweden’s impressive showing at the last edition at Germany 2011, when her team finished third thanks to an attacking display of football. After being spotted enjoying some of the attractions of Qatar, including a desert safari and a squad kayaking trip, Seger talked extensively about what she thinks may be her last Women’s World Cup, why women’s football in the Arab world have great potential, and PSG’s development in recent years.
Caroline, you and your PSG team-mates trained at Aspire Academy in Doha and also saw some of the sights of the country before heading off on national team duty. How has the experience in Qatar been for you?
I have never seen anything like this. The grass is very nice and it has been a very good training camp. These are unbelievable facilities, everything is perfect. There is no chance that you can play bad football on those pitches.
For a number of years now Qatar has had a women’s league and national team. What is your advice based on your experiences in major tournaments to the young players in the country and in this region?
I think it’s amazing that they have a league and national team. I hope they can improve and have the opportunity to have amazing facilities like these. I think that if they enjoy the game and work hard with professionalism, then I will see them at big tournaments in the future.
There is a big tournament coming up for you this summer. Are Sweden well prepared for Canada 2015?
I don’t think everything is ready, but we are getting there. We have a couple of weeks before and a couple of games, but I have high expectations of the Swedish national team. We have been together for a long time, many of us playing together, as well as young enthusiastic players. So I look forward to the World Cup in Canada – it will be a great tournament for us on the field and also for the fans.
At Germany 2011, Sweden played attacking football and finished third. What room for improvement do you see this time?
I think every World Cup has been better. In 2011 we were in Germany, every game had 25,000 spectators, so everyone was living and breathing for football in that month. This year will be no different. Canada is a big football country with many players, and also close to the US with many fans. The only thing is that we will play on synthetic turf instead of grass, but I think the fields will be great, that’s the most important thing. I think the fans will have an amazing tournament with good football, and I hope Sweden can be in the final.
If your team does make it to the last match, who do you expect could be your opponents there?
You have to have a lot of things that fit together to reach a final – all the players playing their top football and luck also. That is our goal, to win a medal and win the World Cup, as with all the national teams. Canada will be strong, for sure on home ground, the US is always strong in the tournament, Brazil is looking good, but also of course France, who have a great team. You have to be 100 per cent focused for seven games. It is a long tournament, and only the ones who are smart and strong physically will be in the final.
You also have a number of German team-mates at Paris Saint-Germain…
Oh, I forgot Germany (laughs)! Yes, of course, I played against Germany for many years, and they always come with a strong team. They have been winning for many years, and they have the right mentality, so for sure they are one of the teams that can go all the way.
How have you seen the development of the PSG women’s side in recent years?
PSG are very new to women’s football. It is only our third year as a professional team and look where we are, here in Doha with all the players. We have so many benefits which a lot of players don’t have. We still need more experience, since we’re still young as a team. We lost the French league this year, but we are in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time, and that is something big for the club.
Looking further to the future, the 2019 edition of the Women’s World Cup will be played in France. Will you be playing for Sweden again then?
You never know. Maybe I’ll be there, but I doubt it. I take one year at a time, but maybe that is for the younger players and I will be there to watch.
And three years after that the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ comes to Qatar. Have you had a chance to gather any impressions of how it could be for fans and players?
I think they will make it amazing, they have all the opportunities in the world. It will be a huge tournament, and I am very happy for the men that they will play in December and not in the summer. For this region for sure, it will be very big. When we have travelled with the Swedish national team, during a tournament you travel very far. I didn’t go to the tournament in China [in 2007], where you have the time difference and you have to travel a lot. That is very hard for your body as a soccer player. So having it within walking distance or just an hour away, that will of course help the players, and also the fans who will not have to fly across the country.