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New-look Valur still tasting victory

Published: Tuesday 29 September 2009, 11.19CET
Freyr Alexandersson, 26, had to rebuild Valur Reykjavík when he took over as coach for this year but they retained the Icelandic title and now have their sights set on the UEFA Women's Champions League.
by Stefán Stefánsson
from Reykjavik
New-look Valur still tasting victory
Valur celebrate their latest league title ©KSI
Published: Tuesday 29 September 2009, 11.19CET

New-look Valur still tasting victory

Freyr Alexandersson, 26, had to rebuild Valur Reykjavík when he took over as coach for this year but they retained the Icelandic title and now have their sights set on the UEFA Women's Champions League.

A lot has happened at Valur Reykjavík since their 2008/09 UEFA Women's Cup campaign – specifically the departure of their coach and eight key players, including top goalscorer Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir. However, they are Icelandic champions again and are now ready for another European challenge.

More success
Valur's 2008 Icelandic title booked their 2009/10 UEFA Women's Champions League berth, and indeed they are already assured of a 2010/11 campaign following their fourth straight domestic success clinched earlier this month. Freyr Alexandersson, at the age of 26, succeeded Elísabet Gunnarsdóttir as head coach at the start of the year, and proved able to maintain their high standards despite the squad changes. His side have a tough UEFA Women's Champions League opener with a round of 32 first-leg trip to Italian runners-up ASD Torres Calcio on Wednesday, and Alexandersson explained how he kept Valur on top.

New system
"The expectations were the same – to win trophies," Alexandersson told uefa.com. "We knew it would be a difficult season but we worked very hard to reach our goal and did fine. Of course I was worried about missing Vidarsdóttir, the top scorer in the UEFA Women's Cup two years in a row and in the Icelandic league three years running. We changed our lineup from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2, using Dóra María Lárusdóttir in a free role. The responsibility was shared out and more players scored goals."

Torres challenge
There is no time to enjoy the league title though, as along with facing Sardinia-based Torres over the next two Wednesdays, they face Breidablik in the Icelandic Cup final on Sunday – "one crazy week" in the coach's words. Torres supplied much of the Italy side that reached the UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ quarter-finals, including striker Patrizia Panico, and represent a big challenge for Alexandersson, who has all of his current squad already committed for next year apart from top scorer Kristín Ýr Bjarnadóttir and captain Katrín Jónsdóttir.

'Underdogs'

"I feel good about it," he said. "Torres are an exciting team and worthy opponents. The competition system is great with home and away games where everything is in stake. I have gathered a lot of information.  I closely watched the Italy games with their three key Torres players in Finland. Still, I am keeping my optimism in check. On paper Torres should be a better team, with us the underdogs, but we are aiming for a good result in Sardinia which could give us confidence to do well enough in the home game. "

Last updated: 29/09/09 16.17CET

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