Younger players are coming forward in Norway's team at the same time as Solveig Gulbrandsen is taking another year with the flag on her shirt.
Marita Skammelsrud Lund and Maren Mjelde are two of the promising young players who have many years ahead of them. 19-year-old Maren Mjelde has this season played herself into a steady place as a starter in the women's national team. When her usual partner at centre-back, Trine Rønning, was not available for the Solvakia match, 21-year-old Marita Skammelsrud Lund stepped in with bravura. It looks good for the future of the team.
"This season has exceeded all expectations. It has got better and better, and I have played in everything there was to play in. With luck I have many years in front of me in the national team", said Maren Mjelde to fotball.no. She thinks the age mix in the squad is good, and that it is important that the young players should benefit from the experience.
"It is very positive for us that the experienced players are there. It's good to people around who have played a lot. They help us gain experience", said Mjelde, who has been captaining Arna-Bjørnar in the Toppserien in the autumn season.
Marita Skammelsrud Lund agrees. She is happy that veteran Solveig Gulbrandsen has made up her mind to play for another year. "I am glad to hear it. It's very important to have a mix. Players like Solveig give security to the team. We have an exciting team now", she thinks.
The Team Strømmen centre-back has not been a regular starter in the national team this season but hopes it will come eventually. "It is what everyone dreams of, but just now I think Trine and Maren play well together. I have to try to get into the team every time, and take any chance that comes along".
She makes no secret of her thought that Skammelsrud Lund - Mjelde could be a good central-defence pair for Norway in the years to come. "I know Maren well from the national youth teams and we are good friends. It's extremely simple to play alongside her", said Skammelsrud Lund.
The match against Slovakia was not a simple affair. The visitors were structured defensively and lay low with many players. Norway had most of the play in the first half and created several useful half-chances, but were never very dangerous in front of Slovaika's keeper Lenka Gadzikova. The away team also created very little, but after 35 minutes they had a good chance. Jana Rozikova was played free in the back room, but her finish went straight to keeper Ingrid Hjelmseth.
Norway's biggest chance came in first-half stoppage time. A good corner came into the throng in front of goal. Several Norwegian players tried to work the ball into goal, but the attempts were blocked.
After half time the Norwegians raised themselves and already after six minutes there was a goal. A free kick from Leni Larsen Kaurin came in towards the back post and Lise Klaveness's unfortunate marker got a toe to it under pressure, deflecting it towards the keeper but over her head for an own goal. Klaveness herself was very close to scoring two minutes before the end but put her shot on to the crossbar.
Eli Landsem has had a good start with six points from two matches, very important in the difficult qualification process for the World Cup. "First and foremost I am pleased that we took the points, but I was not pleased with our performance. In the first half we were imprecise and heavy. After the break it was a little better", she thinks.
It was the national team's last match of the year, and the chief knows what she will use the winter for. "There are alway things that need attention, but we have a lot of good players in the team", she said.
NORGE – SLOVAKIA 1-0 (0-0)
Stadium: Skagerak Arena.
Referee: Amy Rayner, England.
Yellow card: Dana Feckova, Jana Roziakova – Slovakia.
Goal: 0-1 og (51).
Ingrid Hjelmseth –
Camilla Huse, Marita Skammelsrud Lund, Maren Mjelde, Lene Storløkken –
Solveig Gulbrandsen, Ingvild Stensland, Anneli Giske, Lise Klaveness –
Isabell Herlovsen (Cecilie Pedersen 86), Elise Thorsnes (Leni Larsen Kaurin 46, Marie Knutsen 69). Erlend Aas http://www.fotball.no/Landslag_og_toppfotball/Landslag/A-kvinner/2009/Gode-fremtidsutsikter-for-fotballjentene/
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