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Finland fresh for Swedish test

Published: Wednesday 8 June 2005, 13.03CET
Finland's second-half display against England is a source of "a lot of strength" for the Group A tie with Sweden.

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Published: Wednesday 8 June 2005, 13.03CET

Finland fresh for Swedish test

Finland's second-half display against England is a source of "a lot of strength" for the Group A tie with Sweden.

By Kevin Ashby in Preston

The Finland coach Mickael Käld said his side will "take a lot of strength" from their second-half performance against England into Wednesday's second Group A game against neighbours Sweden in Blackpool.

Playing in their first UEFA European Women's Championship, Finland were overrun by the hosts for 45 minutes in Manchester on Sunday and trailed 2-0 at the break. They returned from Käld's pep-talk a different side, however, and goals from Anna-Kaisa Rantanen and Laura Kalmari looked to have secured a draw before Karen Carney scored in added time for Engand. The defeat left the Finns at the bottom of the pool after Sweden and Denmark had drawn 1-1 in Blackpool earlier that day.

'Back to business'
Reflecting on Sunday's performance today, Käld told "Nerves played a part in our first-half display and we didn't play particularly well. After we'd overcome them we improved a lot and our comeback has given us a lot of strength to take into the Sweden game. It was back to business today and we had a great training session in Blackpool - you could really see the passion and the desire of the players in the way they trained."

Fervent support
There are 19,000 registered female players in Finland, compared to almost 50,000 in Sweden, and Käld admitted it would mean a lot to him and six million compatriots to get one over their Scandinavian rivals. One of the great results of his reign saw the Finns seal a place in the play-offs for this competition by drawing 1-1 against the Swedes in October, although 23 losses against Sweden in 28 previous games underlines the latter country's dominance.

Despite the tranquil surroundings, there was an air of determination at the Sweden camp in Accrington today. "Everyone knows what they have to do against Finland," said coach Marika Domanski-Lyfors. "The importance of the game is such that we just have to win it. We created a lot of chances against Denmark but could only take one of them. We played some really good football for the opening 25 minutes but couldn't get to grips with them once they had found their rhythm."

'Especially good'
Domanski-Lyfors refuted suggestions that her side had already played their most difficult Group A game. "Every game in this competition is tough," she said. "We know Finland will be a tough game, and England even tougher on Saturday - nothing will be decided until then. Finland are especially good in central midfield and have a number of good individuals so we'll have to be at our best to beat them."

'A bit special'
That central midfield contest pits Umeå IK duo Malin Möstrom and Frida Östberg against club-mate Anne Mäkinen. Finland's Jessica Julin and captain Sanna Valkonen also ply their trade at the northern Swedish club, while the goalscorers in Manchester - Rantanen and Kalmari - also play for Allsvenskan clubs along with Heidi Kackur. "It promises to be a little bit special," was Möstrom's pre-match prediction.

Last updated: 09/06/05 9.46CET

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