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Tinja-Riikka Korpela is tipped to win the race to keep goal for hosts Finland at UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ and cannot wait for Sunday's opening game with Denmark.
Korpela started Finland's last two pre-finals friendlies against Sweden and Northern Ireland ahead of Minna Meriluoto and the 23-year-old is waiting for the nod for the first Group A fixture at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki. She certainly cannot wait for the occasion, when at least 20,000 fans are expected, more than trebling the previous record for a home Finland women's international. "It is fantastic that so many people are coming to watch the game," Korpela told uefa.com. "The majority will support us and we have to take the benefit of that – and I trust we will."
Denmark are tipped as Finland's strongest opponents in a group which also contains the Netherlands and Ukraine, and the FC Honka Espoo goalkeeper is well aware of what to expect. "Maiken With Pape is an excellent striker and we have to be on our toes with her," Korpela said. "We have watched some of Denmark's matches and will go through some aspects of their game. However, we are concentrating more on our own game."
That said, she is not underestimating their two other rivals, both of whom are making their debut at this stage – just as Finland did in 2005 in England when they reached the semi-finals. "Nothing is won or lost in the Denmark game," Korpela said. "We will have two more tough tests in the shape of the Netherlands and Ukraine ahead. Now we are of course concentrating on the first game, but there will be more to come."
Four years ago, when the seniors were impressing in England, Korpela helped Finland's junior side to the 2005 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship semi-finals – having also been in the squad with Meriluoto the previous year on home soil – and is targeting a long run in this competition as well. "The idea is to be here for three weeks," she said, with an eye to the 10 September final. "It will be a long time, but we will not be thinking about football all the time. Between the games there will be something else organised. Besides, it is great to be at home in Finland. Everything is familiar and there will be no surprises."
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