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From 2003 to 2019: Lindahl’s World Cup journey

FIFA Women's World Cup 2019™ 26 Nov 2018 © Getty Images Hedvig Lindahl was recently voted the world’s top female keeper Sweden No1 is...

 

FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019™

© Getty Images
  • Hedvig Lindahl was recently voted the world’s top female keeper
  • Sweden No1 is preparing for her fifth Women’s World Cup
  • She shared her mixed memories of the tournament and hopes for 2019

She is 35 and approaching her fifth FIFA Women’s World Cup™. But there are no signs of Hedvig Lindahl’s powers diminishing.

Many still consider her the best goalkeeper in the world, and this status that received official validation recently when thousands of her peers voted the Sweden and Chelsea No1 into FIFPro’s first-ever Women’s World XI.

“In terms of my knowledge of the game and decision-making, I definitely feel I’m the best I’ve ever been,” Lindahl told FIFA.com. “I am getting older and that has its challenges. It’s true that sometimes it’s a case of trying to convince yourself you can still do the same things you used to in your physical prime. But I definitely feel that I’ve never played as calmly, or seen things as clearly on the pitch, as I do now.”

And yet, while Lindahl has won over 150 caps for Sweden and collected two World Cup medals, her journey in the global finals has not been without turbulence. So, as she looked forward to France 2019 – her fifth and final World Cup – it gave her a chance to reflect on lessons learned since 2003.

See also

France 2019 Draw Simulator

USA 2003

Lindahl, 20, watched from the bench as Sweden marched all the way to the final, losing out on the trophy to a German Golden Goal in extra time

“I remember naively thinking: ‘This must be the way it’s always going to be.’ That we would always have success like that, come home and be greeted into Swedish airspace by the airforce. I assumed that was just normal, which I now know it definitely wasn’t! But what I learned most at that tournament was standards. I got used to a group that produced really high-level performances and demanded a lot from themselves and everyone else around them. That was a team that simply was not satisfied with anything less than world-class.”

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China 2007

Having arrived dreaming of the title, Sweden crashed out at the group stage, with Lindahl blamed for a critical defeat to USA

“That was my first World Cup actually playing and I learned so much. I remember getting a foot injury during our game against USA and thinking, ‘I’ll keep going’. But I made a mistake and then had to face the press, so it was tough. I realised later that I really shouldn’t have kept playing as my foot was bothering me and restricting my performance. I’d also torn my ACL that January and rushed back to play, which in hindsight probably wasn’t the best call. It’s tough though because World Cups are even more important in women’s football than in the men’s game. Women’s club football is improving all the time but we’ve never had the exposure through that that male players get, so World Cups, EUROs and Olympics are absolutely huge for us. You never want to miss out on playing in one.”

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Germany 2011

Outstanding in Sweden’s run to the semi-finals, Lindahl slipped up against Japan and again found herself in the media spotlight

“I played really well in most of the games there, especially the biggest games. I definitely felt like I’d played a major part in ensuring we made it as far as we did. But while 2011 brings back mostly good memories for me, there were also some very tough moments after the loss to Japan in the semi-finals. Everything was put on my shoulders for that defeat – there was a lot of scrutiny – and I remember having a proper breakdown in the lunch room before playing the third-place match. Fortunately I went on to play well and we won the bronze, and I was proud that I was able to recover emotionally to help the team achieve something. Honestly, I would love to enjoy a tournament where I don’t have to come past something like that – have a World Cup like Mbappe’s, say. But there are often tough moments for keepers and dealing with those and getting past them is so important.”

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Canada 2015

This edition was a major disappointment for the Swedes as they bowed out in the last 16 with a demoralising 4-1 defeat to Germany

“We just weren’t consistent. I remember we drew 2-2 with Nigeria in the opening game after being 2-0 up at half-time, and that kind of set the tone. It definitely wasn’t all bad. We drew 0-0 with USA after that, played really well and should maybe have won. But we drew again against Australia, just squeezed through and then lost badly to Germany in the last 16. It was a very low moment and it took the Olympics (Sweden reaching the final in 2016) to bring us back from that. What we did in Rio showed that we are still a force in women’s football.”

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France 2019

Fifth time lucky? Lindahl believes Sweden, who conceded just twice in qualifying, are genuine title contenders

“This will most definitely be my last World Cup. Someone will throw me out head-first if I try to go for another one! And for that reason I’m really going to aim high and go for the gold, definitely. I want to enjoy every minute and to leave knowing that we’ve done something special. There has never been a gold medal in Swedish football history, so why not this time? I think we have a lot of talent in the team right now and a nice mix of older players, youngsters and ones in the middle. I have really high expectations for us and for the World Cup generally, which I expect to be bigger and better than ever.”

Koen Weijland: From FIFA professional to TV host and writer

 
  • Interview with Dutch eFootball legend Koen Weijland
  • The former Ajax eSports player is now a television host, YouTuber and author
  • “I wanted to be one of the world’s best players”

Koen Weijland started his eFootball career in 2010 by playing in local tournaments and went on to win the national championship that same year before becoming the first eSports player to be signed by Ajax a few years later. “I wanted to be one of the world’s best players,” he told FIFA.com. “I was so proud because I’ve been an Ajax fan ever since I was a child, so it was a dream come true to become part of this club. Ajax helped me to keep improving.”

In 2017 Weijland represented Ajax at the inaugural FIFA Interactive Club World Cup, now known as the FIFA eClub World Cup. “It’s one of the best memories I have of my time at Ajax,” he said. “I flew to London from Thailand, where I was on a holiday I had planned for months, and I was extremely motivated to play there.”

New role
During last season’s EA Sports play-offs, the Dutchman switched from playing to forming part of the event’s broadcasting team. “I only just missed out on qualifying but I still wanted to be involved in the tournament because it was one of the biggest eSports competitions in Amsterdam for several years,” Weijland said. “I was very grateful and proud to be part of the team.”

As was the case with Chu Morah, who outlined his adaptation to a new role in an interview with FIFA.com, Weijland also went through a process of adjustment to his new task: “Shortly before it starts you realise just how many people are watching you, so you’re always a bit nervous initially. But you get better over time and become a lot more comfortable in front of the camera.”

In addition to his move into broadcasting, Weijland decided to write a book about his life as an eFootball player: “It’s called ‘Strijder’, which means ‘fighter’, because that’s the attitude I have. You have to keep fighting, even when you lose. It wasn’t actually my idea to write a book to start with; the publisher approached me and motivated me to write my story as a book.”

Koen Weijland on the eFootball scene and the new season
As one of the most well-known faces in eFootball in the Netherlands, Weijland has been an important and passionate ambassador of the gaming scene in his homeland for many years. “I’m always fascinated by the way some players manage to perform to a consistently high level every year in a game played by so many people,” he said, before analysing the Dutch mentality: “We’re very passionate and have a lot of self-confidence. A good of example of that is Johan Cruyff. We just love the sport and the game. That’s what makes the scene here so special.”

Over the years Weijland has played against some of the best gamers in the world, with a few in particular leaving a lasting memory: “I admired Grannec for how calm he was; Francisco Cruz for the fact he won a title aged 17 and Mike La Belle for his passion for eFootball. And obviously I have to mention Spencer Ealing. Even when he doesn’t win it still feels like he was the best player.”

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Two clubs and two players in particular have stood out for Weijland this season: “I’ve been very impressed with the performances of ‘F2Tekkz’ and August Rosenmeier so far. On top of that, the Ajax and AS Roma teams look very interesting.”

As for his own plans for the current campaign, the 26-year-old said: “I’d love to be part of the broadcasting team again. I’ll also represent eFootball in the Netherlands and will carry on with my YouTube channel and my own webshow.”

From Braveness to nation

 
  • Knowledgeable soccer trophy had by no means ended up in North Carolina
  • The North Carolina Braveness smashed a sequence of data throughout 2018
  • Three Ds are hoping to hold their excellent type on to the worldwide stage

Professional soccer is on the map within the ‘Tar Heel State’. Within the hub of NASCAR, the North Carolina Braveness whizzed previous the NWSL’s chequered flag with the pace of Richard Petty in his Plymouth Superbird.

Abby Dahlkemper, Abby Erceg, McCall Zerboni and Crystal Dunn made the league’s Finest XI. Merritt Mathias, Debinha and Lynn Williams made the Second XI. Jess McDonald was named as the ultimate’s MVP.

Jill Ellis isn’t complaining. The USWNT selector named three Braveness stars in her squad for the forthcoming CONCACAF Girls’s Championship, which presents three tickets to subsequent yr’s FIFA Girls’s World Cup™, and he or she’s earmarked a number of others for a possible journey to France 2019. Neither is Brazil coach Vadao. For 2 days earlier than he rejoiced at seeing his golden woman win The Finest FIFA Girls’s Participant gong, one other of his pupils underscored why adversaries may have greater than Marta to decode on Gallic grass.

FIFA.com spotlights the data which fell like leaves in Fall for the NC Braveness, and highlights the three aforementioned gamers set to embark on worldwide responsibility (harm dominated out Zerboni).

Accomplishments and stats

  • The NC Braveness grew to become the inaugural winners of the Girls’s Worldwide Champions Cup in July. A Heather O’Reilly purpose earned them victory over the mighty Lyon, who fielded 5 nominees for The Finest FIFA Girls’s Participant not too long ago, within the remaining.
  • North Carolina’s +36 purpose distinction from the common season was, astonishingly, 3 times higher than the following greatest: the +12 belonging to runners-up Portland Thorns.
  • The Braveness set data for wins (17), objectives (53) and factors (57) within the common season, breaking those Seattle Reign established in 2014. Additionally they conceded the fewest objectives in an NWSL marketing campaign (17) – a distinction that had belonged to the Thorns of 2016.
  • Paul Riley’s fees grew to become the primary in NWSL historical past to win the NWSL defend – awarded to the workforce with the most effective regular-season report – and the NWSL Championship in the identical marketing campaign.
  • 21,144 – a report crowd for a girls’s trophy match within the USA – watched North Carolina sink Portland.
  • The NC Braveness’s Three-Zero win was the biggest-ever victory in a NWSL Championship sport – regardless of it unfolding in Portland’s dwelling.

Abby Dahlkemper

Jill Ellis lauded the centre-back’s ”large poise and referred to as her “a pure playmaker from the again” – one thing the USWNT coach relishes. But over the past 18 months, Dahlkemper has added Puyol to her Pique. “She will get in the best way of every thing,” raved Riley. “She’s as courageous as they arrive, and he or she’s nice in one-on-one [situations].” The 25-year-old has all of it.

Debinha

2018 has seen this little bundle of vitality and invention flower from midfielder into an elite go-to woman. The 26-year-old upped her goals-per-game ratio from Zero.16 to Zero.39 – she broke the impasse within the NWSL decider – and improved her all-round sport. Having missed out on the 2011 and 2015 Girls’s World Cups, can Debinha show the famous person sidekick to Marta that Brazil have been craving? A glamour pleasant away to England may give us a sign.

Crystal Dunn

“I keep in mind again in 2015 when Jill referred to as me and let me know that I wasn’t on the roster for the World Cup,” rued the FIFA U-20 World Cup Japan 2012 winner. “I keep in mind my coronary heart stopping for a break up second. It harm so much.” Dunn’s exhilarating performances throughout the NWSL 2018 ought to make sure that, ought to the US qualify, she’s a cert for the aircraft to France, however the query is the place she’ll play. The 26-year-old, who’s quick, skilful and boasts defence-decrypting passing, has excelled at left-back, on the wing, in a free position and up entrance.