Norway struggles to restore harmony ahead of Philippines match in Women's World Cup | Inquirer Sports

Norway struggles to restore harmony ahead of Philippines match in Women’s World Cup

07:31 PM July 27, 2023

Norway's Ada Hegerberg, Caroline Graham Hansen and Ingrid Syrstad Engen Women's World Cup

FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 – Group A – New Zealand v Norway – Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand – July 20, 2023 Norway’s Ada Hegerberg, Caroline Graham Hansen and Ingrid Syrstad Engen look dejected after the match REUTERS/David Rowland

Norway’s Caroline Graham Hansen may have apologized for her outburst over being dropped by coach Hege Riise for their Fifa Women’s World Cup clash with Switzerland on Monday, but there is still work to do if they are to restore harmony before their final group game.

The Norwegians must beat the Philippines in their final Group A game on Sunday to have a chance to progress and face the challenge of balancing the Scandinavian desire for a strong collective with the individual brilliance of some players.

In her incendiary post-match comments, 28-year-old Graham Hansen blamed the Scandinavian “Law Of Jante” – never think you’re better than anyone else – for the decision to leave her on the bench for the scoreless draw with the Swiss.

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The Barcelona player apologized the next day but the problem for Riise is that many of Graham Hansen’s teammates sympathize with the winger even if they don’t agree with her decision to air her grievances publicly.

“Of course you are disappointed not to be starting a game at the World Cup. It’s only natural that she and I would feel that way,” midfielder Ingrid Syrstad Engen, who was also dropped for the match, told reporters on Thursday.

“I don’t know if I was surprised by the reaction (of Graham Hansen), I understand that you can be disappointed in such a situation … Caro has said that it shouldn’t have come out in the way it did, and that it is also about other things.”

Caroline Graham Hansen Women's World Cup

FILE PHOTO: FC Barcelona’s Caroline Graham Hansen. –REUTERS/Alberto Lingria/File Photo

Graham Hansen and Engen won the Champions League last month with Barcelona and, while Engen struggled as the lone defensive midfielder in their opening 1-0 loss to New Zealand, Graham Hansen is one of the best attacking players in the world, making the decision to drop her all the more strange.

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Norway’s previous team motto of “sterkere sammen” – “stronger together” – is conspicuous by its absence at this World Cup, a tournament that is as much about individual brilliance as it is strong team play.

Coach Riise has said that she has forgiven Graham Hansen for her outburst, but it appears there is still some way to go before the situation is resolved.

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“We have worked through it and we will continue to talk together, we haven’t had much time,” Riise told reporters on Wednesday following the player’s apology.

“We are always open and receptive to an apology. She has given that and she will give the same to the players. It is accepted,” Riise added.

One way or another, many of the players appear to be behind the winger.

“Obviously one would prefer that this didn’t come out at all but once it did I feel we have solved it in a good way,” fellow winger Julie Blakstad said.

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“It’s great of her (Graham Hansen) to do that (apologize), I think everyone in the group appreciates it.”

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TAGS: Fifa Women’s World Cup, Norway

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