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Norway's Dekkerhus facing family divide

Cathrine Dekkerhus is set for the biggest game of her life when Norway face Denmark in Thursday's semi-final, but half her family will be backing the opposition – the Danish half.

Cathrine Dekkerhus (left) shares a joke with Elise Thorsnes
Cathrine Dekkerhus (left) shares a joke with Elise Thorsnes ©Sportsfile

You might expect a player to have the full support of their family ahead of a UEFA Women's EURO semi-final, but nothing will be quite that straightforward for Cathrine Dekkerhus. The Norway midfielder will be contesting the biggest game of her life against Denmark on Thursday – and half her family will be roaring on the opposition.

"My mum is Danish, so I've been to Denmark many times and spent many good times there," explained the midfielder. "She's going to be very excited. She doesn't like that we're going to play against Denmark, but I think it's going to be funny. All my family are here, and they'll be watching the game. There's a split in the family: my mum's side are very red and white, so I think they'll be all for Denmark."

Born in Norway, the 20-year-old only made her international debut in January this year, but she has appeared three times at Sweden 2013 so far, playing all 90 minutes of her team's famous Group B-clinching win against Germany. "I'm so excited for tomorrow," she added. "I think it's going to be a close and hard match. We are getting stronger and stronger and we think we'll beat Denmark with our speed and aggression."

One of eight Stabæk FK players in Even Pellerud's squad – another Stabæk colleague, Katrine Søndergaard Pedersen, is in the Denmark side – Dekkerhus hopes the Danes' recent exertions will give her side the physical edge. Their Scandinavian rivals needed extra time and penalties to see off a heavily favoured France team in the last eight, and looked to be flagging before clinching victory from the spot.

"It was a really close match and a hard game for Denmark," explained Dekkerhus, who is studying Business Administration and Economics at Oslo University College. "It was nice that they were running for 120 minutes. To have to run for 30 extra minutes is hard on the legs.

"I hoped Denmark would win because I'm half-Danish, of course, and we know Denmark very well. We think Denmark are a strong team but we think France are a little stronger. They have many stars, so we're happy to be meeting Denmark, but it'll be a very hard game."

Given her divided roots, Dekkerhus was also pleased to see three Scandinavian teams reach the last four – in contrast to four years ago, when Norway alone flew the flag for a part of the world traditionally associated with excellence in the women's game. "I hope Scandinavia are on the way back," she said. "It's so nice to have three countries in the semi-finals from Scandinavia, so I hope our football will continue to reach a higher level." Even the Danish side of her family could agree with that.