Forward-thinking Norway intrigue Stensland
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Norway captain Ingvild Stensland is looking forward to being part of an attacking lineup at Sweden 2013, not least given the "really exciting" forwards at Even Pellerud's disposal.
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A mainstay of the Norway side for the last ten years, captain Ingvild Stensland has been excited by the youthful cohort of strikers coach Even Pellerud has at his disposal for the Gresshoppene's Group B opener against Iceland and beyond.
The Stabæk FK midfielder is preparing for the start of her third UEFA European Women's Championship, having helped Norway to a runners-up finish in 2005 and into the semi-finals four years ago in Finland.
Capped 123 times, Stensland has experienced a lot in her international career and seen forwards Isabell Herlovsen and Cecilie Pedersen – the teenage sensations of the last two continental finals respectively – make their mark on the big stage.
It is the options Pellerud can call upon in Sweden, though, that have captured Stensland's imagination. Five of the six attackers in the squad are aged 24 or younger, including three − Melissa Bjånesøy, Kristine Hegland and Emilie Haavi – who featured at last summer's FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Japan.
"It’s difficult to compare the different squads, but the forwards are really exciting," said Stensland when asked how this group of 23 players differs to past selections she has played with. "They have a lot of new skills and are very good technically, so I think we will see a bit more offensive play from Norway this year."
Stensland attributes that change in approach to the December 2012 reappointment of Pellerud, the man who guided Norway to the second of their European titles in 1993 and FIFA Women's World Cup glory two years later.
"It has been different [under Even]," said the 31-year-old. "Even has done a good job, he brings a lot of enthusiasm to the team and we play more offensively now. We are really satisfied with Even as the new coach."
Stensland is one of the "experienced veterans" Pellerud referred to in his press conference at the Kalmar Arena, where Norway will play all of their group games. For the 59-year-old, the players who have been to "major tournaments over and over again and know what it is about" will have a key role to perform.
However, like his captain, Pellerud also singled out the up-and-coming members of his squad who represent the "future" of women's football in the Nordic country. "We have a strong group of players coming through the Norwegian youth system, especially since the U-20 World Cup in Japan last year," he said. "They are quite young and this is a new level of football for them, but they are the future of our team and it will be a great experience for them."
One of those, Hegland, made a brief substitute appearance at the World Cup in Germany in 2011 and is delighted to be part of such an occasion again. "It's a big thing for me [being here] and it's going to be a good championship," the Arna-Bjørnar forward, 20, told UEFA.com. "Championships like this are the biggest thing in football, so we'll have fun."