Hege Riise had every reason to be happy following her first victory as head coach of the Norwegian women’s national football team. The victory also guaranteed the team a place in the World Cup the following year.
“We showed that we have good players,” Riise told news bureau NTB after beating Belgium on the Belgians’ own home turf heading into the weekend.
Riise especially pointed to Guro Reiten, calling her skills “enormous,” while also giving credit to Guro Bergsvand and Maren Mjelde for winning “duel after duel.”
The most crucial element, according to Riise, was “the sensation that we had control over defence” when facing Belgium’s “strong team,” which had the “entire stadium on their side.”
Tuva Hansen, meanwhile, scored the game-winning goal, giving Norway the 1-0 victory needed to qualify for the World Cup 2023, which will be held in Australia and New Zealand.
Ada Hegerberg, the squad’s star player, had to limp off the pitch with an injury, although team physicians later confirmed that nothing was broken.
Players promptly put on new T-shirts with their World Cup destination for next year, and they were overjoyed to be back on top after a poor European Championships in July. Reiten completely agreed with Riise about how important it was to put up a strong defense:
“This was all about showing who we are,” Reiten told NTB. “We could finally shut out the opponents and we showed our Norwegian defense culture out on the field.”
Before Friday night’s crucial match in Belgium, the players had only had three training sessions with their new coach.
Riise was hired just a few weeks ago to replace former coach Martin Sjögren, who left after the Norwegians were eliminated from the European Championships.
The team will now have the next 11 months to practise and play under Riise’s supervision, and Reiten stated that they are all looking forward to it.
“This victory was important for us to get going again after the European Championships, and now we’ll keep working,” she said.
Women’s football, meanwhile, is quickly growing in stature and popularity itself, and Solbakken think salaries for both coaches and players will rise as well.
“I think NFF (the Norwegian football federation) along with the Americans’ have come the farthest when it comes to equality,” Solbakken told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “I’m sure that will also get better.”