Brøndby IF playing legend Per Nielsen took charge of the women's team ahead of their quarter-final and he speaks about the challenge and the tie with Linköpings IF.
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A Brøndby IF playing legend who spent his entire career at the club, Per Nielsen is relishing taking charge of the women's team as they prepare for a European quarter-final.
Brøndby visit Linköpings IF of Sweden on Sunday in the first leg of their UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-final. Having made the last four in 2003/04 and 2006/07, Brøndby will attempt to do so again under Nielsen, who took over from Peer Lisdorf during the winter break with the club comfortably top of the Danish league.
Nielsen, whose team have scored 18 and conceded once in his three games at the helm so far, spoke to UEFA.com about the "new world" of women's football and the tie with Linköping.
UEFA.com: How were you picked to be coach here at Brøndby despite not having trained women before?
Per Nielsen: It's true – it's a new world for me, but Brøndby needed a coach after Peer Lisdorf finished, and Peer did fantastically. Brøndby called me and asked if I was interested, and the first thing I thought was that I didn't know much about women's football, so I was a bit sceptical. But I don't regret it at all – it's very exciting.
UEFA.com: Speak about your previous coaching experience...
Nielsen: That was men's football, and that was a small club called Hvidovre, which isn't too far from here. I learnt a lot there, but things don't work that well in small clubs. As a coach for a small club, you have to take care of most things yourself. I had to take responsibility for a lot of things not only regarding football. The thing I missed the most was concentrating on football only, and that's exactly what I can do here at Brøndby with the ladies.
UEFA.com: How does it feel to take over such a successful team?
Nielsen: It's different from what I used to have earlier. I've come to a winning team that want to win tournaments every year – they want to go a long way in the Champions League. It's a challenge, but for me it's not all about winning, it's also about witnessing the development of every single player and the development of the playing style. There are many more things, of course, but the main challenge is to keep Brøndby on top in the future.
UEFA.com: What do you think about the game against Linköping?
Nielsen: Linköping are one of the best teams in Sweden, and it's going to be a huge challenge for us, but I think we have a good chance to get a result and win. But we are very humble and focused on what we have to do. The girls are really looking forward to playing these games because they are so passionate about them – the fun games, the close games, so it's going to be fun.
UEFA.com: You have already started your season but Linköping haven't – do you think that's an advantage for you?
Nielsen: It's hard to say. We have played some games but there has been a break due to the national team, and we have six or five players who play with the national team, so then we aren't together. Actually it's nine players, because there is also the youth national team. So we had some players absent, which means that we had a 12-day-break where we weren't together, which wasn't good for our preparations.
But you're right, we have already played three games. But I'm sure they have played some good games, and they had a Super Cup game against Rosengård before they play us. I don't think it's an advantage for us that we've played some games.