As UEFA Women's EURO 2013 hosts, Sweden know their finals place is secure, and coach Thomas Dennerby is looking forward to seeing the qualifying drama unfold in the group stage, which begins next week, not having to worry about his own team.
"For the first time in my life I could be really calm during the draw," Dennerby told UEFA.com. "There are lots of derby games in the groups, some very tough games. It is going to be a nice qualifying round."
Although the event is still more than two years off and Sweden may compete in two final tournaments before then, Dennerby insists the excitement is already building. "When you live in Sweden you think about EURO 2013 every day," he explained. "We are very close to everything and that's very nice. We really have the feeling that it is close now."
Dennerby's first priority, though, is the FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany, kicking off on 28 June against Colombia, preceded by friendlies in England on Tuesday and against Mexico and Japan next month. Also in Sweden's World Cup group are the two teams that eliminated them at the same stage four years ago, Korea DPR and the United States.
"The US team is very good, no doubt about that," Dennerby said. "We met them in China in January and won 2-1, so we have a nice feeling about meeting them again. They try to keep up the pace in games and that's one thing that really suits Sweden. It is a very open game.
"North Korea is going to be tough. Their players are very technical and they are the best Asian team physically. It is probably the key game for us and them. I don't know so much about Colombia," the trainer admitted. "I've not seen their national team but I saw their U20 team last summer when they beat our side 2-0 in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. They now have six players from that squad in the senior team."
Finishing as one of the two best European teams - or among the best three if England reach the final - would seal a 2012 Olympic place, ensuring more competitive action in the build up to 2013. Whatever happens in the coming months, Dennerby will do his utmost to ensure Sweden given a good account of themselves on home soil.
"It means a lot because if you look at the new female players in Sweden a lot of small girls are going to start playing football," Dennerby said. "The numbers are already increasing but it is going to get a new kick. Also, at tournaments the home team usually perform well. That's an important thing for me."
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