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Captain calls for classy display

Published: Friday 10 June 2005, 10.00CET
Sanna Valkonen hopes that Finland "take the opportunity to show how good we are" when they tackle Denmark.
Published: Friday 10 June 2005, 10.00CET

Captain calls for classy display

Sanna Valkonen hopes that Finland "take the opportunity to show how good we are" when they tackle Denmark.

By Kevin Ashby in Preston

Finland captain Sanna Valkonen hopes she and her team-mates "take the opportunity to show how good we are" when they attempt to reach the semi-finals by defeating Denmark on Saturday.

Unlikely passage
Finland have performed well in their first UEFA European Women's Championship appearance, running England all the way before succumbing 3-2 and drawing 0-0 with Sweden. Other results have worked in their favour and three points in Blackpool against the Danes will see them seal what seemed an unlikely passage to the knockout stages if the other Group A game played simultaneously in Blackburn, England-Sweden, ends in a victory for either side.

'Final crack'
"It will be the biggest game of my Finland career," Valkonen told "Obviously I will be a bit nervous but that will mainly be because I really want us to show how well we can play. We're very pleased to have one final crack at qualifying and have a good chance of recording three points and reaching the semi-finals."

The Finland defence were too often unhinged against England but excelled in keeping Victoria Svensson and Valkonen's Umeå IK team-mate Hanna Ljungberg at bay in Blackpool on Wednesday. "It was a little bit strange playing against my club-mates," said the Finland captain. "But it also made life a little bit easier because I know which runs Hanna likes to make. I did have to pull her back a few times - although I said sorry each time!"

'Tough game'
Denmark are full of confidence after coming from behind to defeat England 2-1 and need only look at their most result against Finland - a 4-1 win at the Algarve Cup in March - to further fuel that belief. Valkonen does not expect such a straightforward success for the Danes on Saturday, saying: "We had a lot of injuries then and were a different team. Now we have more strength and self-confidence and it will be a tough game for both teams."

Anything possible
Another Finn based at Umeå, Anne Mäkinen, believes Finland need to improve if they are to overcome Denmark. She told "I don't think we got to the level where we could string a few passes together and win the game against Sweden and that has to be our next step. We are still at the point where we are defending a lot more than attacking - but everyone has a chance now and anything can happen."

Last updated: 10/06/05 12.21CET

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