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Kukkonen hoping to make history

Finland have met Sweden 35 times and have only won once, but though Saturday's meeting will mark Annika Kukkonen's first encounter with her neighbours, she is confident.

Finland's Annika Kukkonen will face Sweden for the first time
Finland's Annika Kukkonen will face Sweden for the first time ©UEFA.com

Just like seven other Finnish players at UEFA Women’s EURO 2013, Annika Kukkonen calls Sweden home. During the Swedish club season, that is. Kukkonen is at Sunnanå SK, her third Swedish club in as many years, after FC Malmö and Djurgårdens IF DFF.

"We play the Sweden players every week," said the midfielder. "They know us and we know them." Despite that fact, and despite the long-standing rivalry between the two countries in many sports, Kukkonen claimed playing Sweden is no more special than playing any other team.

"We are not friends right now," she said with a laugh. "We are only friends after the tournament. Right now we only focus on what Finland is doing."

Finland started their campaign with a 0–0 draw against Italy and come into their second match knowing that they have beaten Sweden once in 35 attempts, back in 1976. But Kukkonen has no first-hand experience of such disappointments, having never played the Swedes. Now she will get the chance in front of some 16,000 fans at a packed Gamla Ullevi.

"We don't have that many who watch our games in Finland. It gives you extra energy and we will want to show everyone that we are there to take the three points," the 23-year old said confidently.

Whether that statement is a true reflection of what she believes is anybody’s guess though. On her personal presentation on the Sunnanå website, her chosen motto reads: "If you can't convince them, confuse them."