After the excitement of UEFA Women's EURO 2013 on home soil, Sweden are turning their minds to 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying and coach Pia Sundhage has largely kept faith with the squad that reached the continental semi-finals.
Sweden narrowly missed their dream final in July, losing to eventual champions Germany in an epic last-four encounter in Gothenburg. Even so, Sundhage and her players made a half-time appearance during the final at the Friends Arena in Solna and received a rapturous reception from the competition record crowd of over 40,000.
"We played good football," said Sundhage, as she announced her squad for the 21 September Women's World Cup qualifier against Poland in Malmo. "But it won't be enough to win a medal at the 2015 World Cup. We need to go from good to better."
Sundhage took charge in late 2012, a year after her United States team lost the World Cup final on penalties to Japan, who had beaten Sweden in the last four. For her first qualifier at the helm she has retained 20 of her 23-strong Women's EURO party, Stina Segerström, Elin Magnusson and injured goalkeeper Sofia Lundgren giving way to Umeå IK duo Malin Reuterwall and Hanna Folkesson, plus Kristianstads DFF forward Marija Banusic. Goalkeeper Reuterwall and Banusic are uncapped at senior level.
Needing to top a group also containing Scotland, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Faroe Islands for a guaranteed place in Canada, Sundhage and assistant Lilie Persson highlighted some key areas for improvement. Among them were decision-making with and without the ball, and the aerial game.
"It is then up to the individual player to work on improving herself in her daily training," said Sundhage. "As coaches, all we can do is point to the specific areas."
Also present at the squad presentation was UEFA Women's EURO 2013 tournament director Göran Havik. "It was a record tournament in every way," Havik said, underlining the total attendance figure of 216,888 spectators – an impressive 68% rise on the previous best four years earlier in Finland. "We got a very nice, very personal letter from UEFA President Michel Platini, where several times he praised the 'incredible commitment' of the host cities and asked us to forward that praise to them."
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