While her dad gains Swedish converts among the local supporters in the stands with his shouts of "Kämpa Sverige", captain and midfielder Emilia Appelquist has been making her presence felt both on and off the field.
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While her dad gains Swedish converts among the local supporters in the stands with his shouts of "Kämpa Sverige", midfielder Emilia Appelquist has been making her presence felt both on and off the field.
Sweden began these UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship finals in innocuous style. A 3-0 defeat by England left Calle Barrling's charges with it all to do and, when they fell behind to Iceland next time out, their campaign looked to be ending no sooner than it had started. Yet, led by their inspirational skipper, they showed real resolve by recovering to earn a 2-1 victory that leaves Sweden most likely needing a point from Sunday's meeting with Norway to progress. "I talk a lot as a captain," said Appelquist. "After the England loss, when we did not play too good, I told them there were two games left, that we couldn't be too down. I said we were much better than that.
"We played much better against Iceland, varied our attack more and created a lot of chances." Some fell to the diminutive Appelquist, an industrious midfielder who models her game on that of Chelsea FC's Frank Lampard, displaying an impressive leap to compete with defenders much taller than her but, the 19-year-old concedes, she "needs to improve technically to score more goals." That will come, however, and the Uppsala-born youngster has certainly come a long way since last year when she helped Sweden through to the semi-finals in France. "I have more experience and know a lot of things I didn't know before," said Appelquist. "Also, I am now starting games for my club, AIK Fotboll."
'Millan', as she is known by her team-mates, is relishing the opportunity to spend time in unfamiliar surroundings in Minsk, and with her mother and father making the trip from Stockholm to support her she is unlikely to feel homesick. "I am very glad my parents are here," she confessed. "It's great to be able to talk to them after the game, especially when we are far away from home." Her dad Eric – a former coach and player – even managed to convert a few Belarusians on Thursday during the Iceland game as they joined him in a refrain of "Kämpa Sverige" (Go Sweden) at the Darida Stadium. "I don't feel embarrassed," his daughter said. "When the Belarusian people started to shout too, it was just very fun. When he shouts like that, I like it. It makes me play much better." It seemed the whole Sweden team played better.