Wednesday, October 20

– We have taken some giant steps.


ULLEVAAL (VG) (Norway-Montenegro 2–0) Ståle Solbakken has reason to rejoice. Norway has not added any more qualifying points since he himself played in red, white and blue. In terms of points, the national team hasn’t been better in 22 years.

THE DECISION: Mohamed Elyounoussi applauds the victory with national team manager Ståle Solbakken in tow.

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– We have made great strides in relation to being clear among ourselves. When we are together for such a short time, nothing can be swept under the rug. We have to solve the problems, Ståle Solbakken answers VG’s question whether the culture in the national team can be compared to what he himself experienced as a player in the 1990s.

After eight World Cup qualifiers, Norway stands with 17 points. It hasn’t happened since the turn of the millennium. Norway has played 10 heats in a row without reaching the European Championship or the World Cup.

The selection of the 90s stood with 20 and 19 points respectively after eight games played in qualifying for the World Cup in France (1998) and the European Championships in Holland and Belgium (2000). Solbakken played in both and accounted for a total of five goals en route to the men’s team so far the last two soccer championships.

This is how the NRK profile reacted to Moi Elyounoussi’s 2-0 scoreline.

Solbakken’s Norway tops the list of qualifying results after eight matches on this side of the millennium.

Qualifier for the 2022 World Cup: 17 points: Goals: 15–6. Director of the Solbakken national team

2008 European Championship Qualifier: 16 points. Goals: 18-6. Director of the national team: Hareide.

2012 European Championship Qualifier: 16 points. Goals: 10–7. Director of the national team: Drillo.

2016 European Championship Qualifiers: 16 points. Goals: 10–8. Director of the national team: Høgmo.

Qualifier for the European Championship 2004: 14 points. Goals: 9–5. Director of the national team: Semb.

2006 World Cup qualifier: 12 points. Goals: 10–7. Director of the national team: Hareide.

There is reason to point out that Norway in points is on its way to becoming the top finisher for the World Cup in many years. Åge Hareides Norway came close to a place in the World Cup, but in 2005 they lost both playoff games against the Czech Republic.

– We are not where we want to be, but we are on the right track, says Solbakken.

He was happy when Norway fought their way in the second half with “low gas in the tank” and beat Montenegro against a packed Ullevaal. He evoked strong emotions in the dressing room after the victory.

– I told the boys that two things should always be at the end. It is heart and organization.

But the Netherlands scored all the points against Gibraltar as expected, while Turkey won eight minutes of overtime in Latvia.

– I don’t spend time on that. Turkey have conceded and scored at the end of the matches. We can’t waste time on that, he says with the certainty that Norway can still win the group and become number two with Latvia (at home) and the Netherlands (away) as opponents in November.

– We really just made a bad classification. It was the first against Turkey, he says.

INTENSITY: Ståle Solbakken ensures that Mohamed Elyounoussi & co doesn’t just keep up the intensity on the pitch.

– We have entered the team in which we can play in different ways depending on who we meet and how the outlook of the game is. I think we have done well, considering that we have almost no training, adds Solbakken.

Hans Norge has delivered variety in all eight qualifiers. These are some of the things that Solbakken likes the most.

– We dominated with the ball against Turkey, Latvia and Montenegro out. Here we had to have the heart and the organization to win this battle. We countered the Netherlands well at home.

He himself is praised by the players after a Norway without Erling Braut Haaland and several possible first options that have scored four points against Turkey and Montenegro.

– It’s great to have a coach who gives so much of himself, describes Defense Chief Stefan Strandberg.

He is followed by two-goal scorer Mohamed Elyounoussi.

– He has taken hold of each player individually and demands more of us, says the two-goal scorer who believes that Norway has a team that bleeds through the kit and plays with the heart. He adds:

– This is the beginning of something great. We are already looking forward to the next meeting.


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