Sweden ignoring history in latest Women’s World Cup glory bid

Sweden will not be weighed down by a series of near-misses when they launch their latest bid to win the Women’s World Cup on Sunday, coach Peter Gerhardsson said.

The third-ranked Swedes face South Africa in Wellington in their tournament opener and Gerhardsson is adamant that history will not be a factor.

“History’s history and the future is the future, you can only live where we are now,” he said on Saturday.

“For us, I like the word ‘possibility’ because you can feel it, you can win many games and you can win tournaments.

“The focus is on the first game, you can’t be weighing your mind on what’s going to happen after then.

“For me, it’s only tomorrow against South Africa.”

Sweden are heavily favoured to beat the 51st-ranked African champions and to go on to qualify from Group G, which also includes Italy and Argentina.

That would continue an enviable run of consistency for the Scandinavian side, who have only once failed to advance to the knockout phase at all eight previous World Cups.

But they have never gone on to win the trophy.

They were runners-up to Germany in 2003 and have also bagged three bronze medals, including four years ago, when they were beaten in extra-time by the Netherlands in the semi-finals.

Adding to a reputation as perennial bridesmaids at major tournaments, the Swedes lost the Olympic final on penalties to Canada two years ago.

Defender Stina Lennartsson joined her teammates on Saturday, having been called in to replace Atletico Madrid’s Hanna Lundkvist, who suffered a tournament-ending ankle injury on Monday.

Gerhardsson confirmed veteran captain Caroline Seger had been ruled out of the opener because of an ongoing calf muscle complaint.

In 38-year-old Seger’s absence, AC Milan midfielder Kosovare Asllani will be captain and Elin Rubensson is likely to take up defensive midfield duties.

Gerhardsson said Fridolina Rolfo was set to play up front alongside first-choice striker Stina Blackstenius.

Rolfo has been deployed this year at full-back by European champions Barcelona.

“Fridolina’s a star player, she’s one of Sweden’s absolutely best players and she’s shown that,” Gerhardsson said.

“She has a different role at Barcelona but we have to use her higher up in position because that’s the way we play against other teams.”



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