Thomas Dennerby leads Sweden abroad for the first time since being appointed coach on Tuesday, as they visit Portugal aiming to take a grip on FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying Group 2.
Dennerby took over from Marika Domanski-Lyfors, the woman that led Sweden to the 2003 World Cup final, after they reached the last four of UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005™. Their current campaign opened with a disappointing 2-2 draw against Iceland, but they rallied against Belarus last month, Hanna Ljungberg striking four in a 6-0 win that leaves Sweden level with Iceland and the Czech Republic on four points.
Victory in Alcochete, then, would be priceless for ex-Djurgården/Älsvjö chief Dennerby, who is still coming to terms with the different demands of a national coaching job. "I'm satisfied with my job and the girls," he told uefa.com. "But normally I'm a club person and I'm missing the daily coaching work. I hope I can calm down a little bit and accept I need to lead training only two to three times every other month.”
'A new world'
He certainly felt the frustrations after being held by Iceland. "If you have a result you don't want, it's a long time until the next game," he said. "If you’re a club coach you can start to work the next day. It's a new world in that way." While he has inherited a world-class crop of players from Domanski-Lyfors, the nucleus of the side is now passing 30, and Dennerby knows that he will soon have to make some difficult decisions, especially regarding Kristin Bengtsson and Malin Moström.
"Kiristin and Malin, they are close to their last caps for the Swedish team, but I will talk with them in November," Dennerby said. "Kristin said she would not play in any more big tournaments. When she gave me that news, the question for me is - shall I use her in 2006 to make sure we go to the World Cup in 2007 or is it time for another left-back? And it's the same for Malin.
"We have a lot of players around 30 years old so in the near future there will be a lot of new players. I hope I can get at least six matches in before the first qualifier of 2006, so I have a chance to try the younger players. We have talented players in Sweden but what we are missing is a new Victoria Svensson and Hanna Ljungberg, we have good [young] defenders and midfielders, we are searching for really good striker."
The only players missing this time for Dennerby are 100-cap defender Jane Törnqvist and emerging midfielder Caroline Seger. Portugal are beginning their campaign, but lost all but one of their EURO qualifiers and conceded 24 in two games against the eventual champions Germany, having had the bad fortune to play them on their return from winning the 2003 World Cup.
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