More frustration for the men’s national side after draws at home to the Czech Republic and Sweden.
Swede Lars Lagerbäck was brought in to lead the national team after his heroics guiding Iceland to the last 8 of Euro 2016 including a famous win over England. While these two draws are an undoubted improvement on previous results, they stretch Norway’s dismal run to just one win in nine matches. That one win was against European minnows San Marino, and even then it took three late goals to save Norway’s blushes. Norway have never sat so low in the international rankings, 87th, as they do now.
Anyway, I digress.
World Cup Qualifier: Norway 1 Czech Republic 1
There are reasons to be cheerful. While the Czech Republic are far from the force they once were, a 1-1 draw at home is still a good result in the grand scheme of things. Unfortunately it’s also a result that all but confirms Norway won’t be appearing at the World Cup in Russia next summer.
The visitors took the lead on a quiet night at the Ullevaal when Gebre Selassie finished off a move from a quickly-taken free kick. But despite some clear-cut chances, Norway needed a penalty to force an equaliser. Still, creating chances is more than this team were doing a few months ago.
What’s perhaps most worrying for the powers that be is the attendance of little more than 12,000 at the national stadium in Oslo. The Norwegian public is losing interest, and fast.
Friendly: Norway 1 Sweden 1
A few days later Lagerbäck welcomed his countrymen to Oslo for a friendly. The in-form and free-scoring Swedes were expected to run riot, but it took a late equaliser to rescue a draw for Sweden. It should be pointed out that the Sweden side bore little resemblance to the one that beat France just days before, but nevertheless Lagerbäck will take heart from his side taking the lead in a match (aside from against San Marino) for the first time in more than a year.
The goal came just before half-time. The Swedish defence made a hash of clearing the ball and it fell kindly to Mohamed Elyounoussi on the edge of the box who rifled it past Nordfeldt, albeit with a slight deflection. Home keeper Nyland will be disappointed with the equaliser as he failed to keep out what should have been a simple save from Armenteros’ downward header.
Next up for Norway in September is a home World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan followed by a trip to Germany. A win against Azerbaijan is critical to boost morale before what is likely to be a heavy defeat in Stuttgart.