In recent tournaments Denmark have had a habit of qualifying impressively then underperforming in the finals – being pipped in the UEFA Women's EURO 2009 group stage after losing the opener to hosts Finland a case in point.
Four years on they have again qualified with little fuss and once more start against the home nation, against Sweden in Gothenburg. However, this time midfielder Katrine Veje is determined things will be different – not least to earn bragging rights at her Swedish club, FC Malmö.
UEFA.com: What has impressed you most about the Danish team through qualifying?
Katrine Veje: We lost one game [against Austria], when we were in a very dark place and very downbeat, but I'm very impressed how we got back from that, to [beat Portugal and] proceed to the EURO in Sweden. It's been cool to be part of the team.
UEFA.com: You were in the squad in Finland. What did you learn in those finals that you can draw on in this summer's tournament?
Veje: We've changed tactics quite a lot, and we've spent a lot of time on that in qualification, in Brazil and Spain, and also in the Algarve. We have changed tactics a lot, and I think it works in a great way compared to how we played in Finland. It has improved.
UEFA.com: You live and play in Sweden – how is the mood there ahead of the tournament?
Veje: The Swedes are mocking us, because they beat us during the last qualification, and they say we don't stand a chance, and they have so many spectators. We'll set them straight in the opening game.
UEFA.com: The opening game is a special match against the hosts. How do you prepare for such a game?
Veje: I've been looking forward to it, because it's kind of home turf for me, since I play in Malmo, and I almost feel like it's playing a club game. It would be fantastic if the stadium is sold out. I've heard there will be many [Danish fans].
UEFA.com: The other teams, Finland and Italy; what are you expecting from them?
Veje: We've played against Finland a couple of times, and they are great physically. I haven't played against Italy before, so I'm really looking forward to that. I think we will perform well.
UEFA.com: You have worked for many years with Kenneth Heiner-Møller, the coach who will step down after the finals. What has he meant for you as a player, and how do you think it has helped you to have the same coach for so many years?
Veje: He brought me to the A team, and I know him very well now, and vice versa, and it's a kind of a feeling of security to have the same coach for such a long time. I've developed during that time, I think it's kind of comforting. I'm a player who likes to feel secure, and to have a person like that, who knows who you are, I think that's really, really important.
UEFA.com: What does it mean to you to participate at a UEFA Women's EURO?
Veje: It means a great deal. Firstly you are playing with 'Denmark' on your jersey; you are playing for your country; secondly it's awesome to play in a finals in front of a lot of people.
UEFA.com: How important do you think it is for your own generation of players, the national team, to inspire and be role models for the youngsters and the players of the future?
Veje: It's very important. More and more girls take up football in Denmark, and we have to be icons for them. It's incredibly important that we are role models for them.
It's not on my mind at all in my daily life, but it's on your mind when young girls are present, for example in Malmo after a game, and they all want your autograph. They have posters at home and send pictures of their rooms to me. That's cool, but apart from that it's not really something you think about.
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