Sorry Norway Home In Uncertainty

Norway’s women were surprisingly beaten 2-1 in the first knockout stage against England on Monday. That could mean both missing out on the coming Olympics in Rio 2016, and losing several players to retirement.

As Norway were preparing to face stronger ranked France in this match, many were quite happy to see the English girls drawn instead. Though the match was never expected to be an easy one, Norway were ranked as favourites. A minimum of a quarter-final was set as a goal for Norway before the tournament, with anything more than that a welcome bonus. Instead, the World Cup now looks like a big disappointment for the Norwegian girls.

The match started in a good manner for Norway, and the first half was firmly dominated. Striker Ada Stolsmo Hegerberg missed a big chance in the first half, and so did fellow striker Isabell Herlovsen. Ten minutes into the second half, Norway’s pressure paid off as veteran Solveig Gulbrandsen headed Norway into the lead from a corner kick. The ball barely crept over the line, but enough to see Norway go into the lead.

About ten minutes later, England had their first chance when Stephanie Houghton was left completely alone from an English corner kick. 1-1 was still against the run of play. Norway pushed back and had several opportunities, but England were as effective as you can get, and scored on their second chance of the the match. There would be no more goals, as England held back Norway who were unable to make something out of their possession.

Obviously, Norway’s girls were devastated after the match. An early flight home was not the way striker Isabell Herlovsen wanted to celebrate her 27th birthday, which was the day after the match. More important for Norway though, was the chance to still stay in the race to qualify for the Olympics in Rio 2016. If the Netherlands were to beat Japan in their first knockout match, Norway would be unable to qualify. Luckily for Norway, reigning World Champions Japan beat the Dutch team in Tuesdays match.

That does also mean Norway will play qualifying matches in February 2016. Also, it secures the future of coach Even Pellerud, whose future was in the balance. It was thought Pellerud would leave his position if Norway were unable to qualify for the olympics. Furthermore, goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth would have been uncertain of her future in the national team if Norway failed to qualify for the tournament.

The future of one important Norwegian player is yet to be decided though. Goalscorer Solveig Gulbrandsen is unsure whether she will play in another championship for the national team. She has stated she wants younger forces to take over. With women’s football in Norway still growing, there will certainly be no shortage of players aiming for a spot in the national team. There is still a lot of potential within the Norwegian national team and in Norwegian Women’s football as a whole. That may act as some consolation for the Norwegian fans. There was a very big coverage of the World Cup in Norway this time, and the Women’s section of this sport is rapidly growing its reputation; unfortunately it’s game over for the time being.

For those of you wondering about England’s participation in the coming Olympics, Great Britain were not able to put together a team for the tournament.