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Since reaching the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup final, Sweden's performances at major tournaments have tended not to live up to high expectations, not least going out in the group stage in China last time.
They begin their Germany 2011 campaign on Tuesday against debutants Colombia well aware that their other Group C rivals, the United States and Korea DPR, are the two that denied them a quarter-final place four years ago. Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, a squad member in 2003 who will be at her seventh major final tournament, talked to UEFA.com about their ambitions and living up to expectations.
UEFA.com: Two your opponents are familiar and one is pretty new. What do you think of your opposition?
Hedvig Lindahl: They're all good teams, I think. Colombia is the team that I don't know so much about, but I can imagine their way of playing, very technical, and maybe a little bit lower tempo than what we're used to. That's not so easy to play against, so I think they can be hard opponents as well. We know a lot about the US team, but the last couple of years we've come closer, and we've even beaten them. So I think that was an important win, last year's Algarve Cup – the mental win, we've done that already. But we also know that they will be really good when it's a real tournament. And then North Korea, quick, technical, it will be tough, so we will have to play at our best.
UEFA.com: Are you looking forward to the whole experience, because it looks like it will be with very big crowds, not so far from Sweden this time...
Lindahl: Yes, of course! How can I add anything else..?! It's going to be huge. I think Steffi Jones and the others in the World Cup organisation have done a phenomenal job, and I am proud to be able to participate.
UEFA.com: Sweden have not lived up to prior expectations in recent tournaments; do you know why and can it be different in Germany?
Lindahl: It's hard. I think it's complex to answer why it didn't work, because there's a lot of psychology in the group. There's no doubt that we can play very well. Somehow we haven't really been able to put it all out there when we have to. We were close in [UEFA Women's EURO 2009], we played really well in the group stage, but then everything was gone when we played the quarter-final [against Norway]. All of us who have had those experiences, we have had extra years, we've grown as people, we've learned more, and I think that can take us to a higher performance this time.
UEFA.com: Are you keen to also make sure you get to the Olympics as one of the top two European sides at the World Cup other than England, considering you're not going to be playing any qualifiers until you host UEFA Women's EURO 2013?
Lindahl: It's very important that we get to the Olympics, that's a huge goal for us. So of course we have to perform well enough to go there.
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