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FIFA Women's World Cup

Troelsgaard: Sweden clash one of the most important of my life

(FIFA.com)
Denmark's midfielder Sanne Troelsgaard kicks the ball past Austria's midfielder Sarah Puntigam
© FIFA.com
  • Denmark’s Sanne Troelsgaard eyes France 2019 qualification climax
  • Danes will face Sweden in dramatic clash for automatic ticket
  • “We’re just hoping to make the dream of qualifying come true”

Turning 30 is generally seen as a major milestone in the lives of most people. Sanne Troelsgaard, however, was always focused on a fortnight after she ticked over into a new decade.

“The next few weeks are going to be the most important of my life!” the Denmark international excitedly told FIFA.com. When it comes to football, it’s hard to dispute that point.

While the return of the UEFA Women’s Champions League glistens on the horizon for her and Swedish outfit Rosengard, the impending FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 qualifiers stands tall and illuminated for the attacking midfielder this week.

Things could not be tighter at the top of Group 4 - “almost too tight” in the mind of Troelsgaard. With two games apiece to play, Denmark and Sweden are locked on points with the latter ahead by a solitary strike on goal difference.

Up until the last round of games it was out of Denmark’s hands, until a superbly taken Daria Apanashchenko goal saw Sweden lose 1-0 in Ukraine. While the Swedes play the reverse of that fixture on Thursday, the Danes host bottom-of-the-table Croatia as both Scandinavian sides limber up for Tuesday’s crucial climax.

“We know there’s the big final next Tuesday, but first we’re looking forward to seeing Croatia,” Troelsgaard insisted, looking to stay rooted ahead of what could be an era-defining game for the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 finalists, who have haven’t reached a Women’s World Cup since 2007.

“Having been with the national team for ten years, I think that match will be up there with the final last year as one of the most important games of my life.”

Danish de ja vu

When Denmark last booked their place at a Women's World Cup there were a host of similarities:

  • Locked on points at the top ahead of their final game, they faced a fellow Scandinavian side on Danish soil, that time being Finland
  • A narrow 1-0 win, courtesy of Maiken Pape's goal, was enough to send Denmark to China 2007
  • Troelsgaard, part of the U-23 team, watched from the stands. “I saw that huge game that sent us to China. I was so nervous, so I know what kind of feelings this kind of game can bring up! I was so proud seeing them qualify.”

“When they lost the last game to Ukraine we saw a big chance. We just have to go into the game, play our way and see what position that first game against Croatia leaves us in.

“We will need to approach the Sweden game like any other, but I think some people will be a little more nervous as it’s a huge ‘final’. But we’re playing at home and one year ago we were standing in a big European final, so there are plenty of us who know what it’s like to play in huge games like this.”

Having spent the last two years in Malmo with Rosengard, Troelsgaard will be lining up against a few familiar faces. “Sweden are just another team. I won’t be thinking about the fact I play with them in my daily life. For 90 minutes I’ll just have to see them as unknown people,” she said with a smile.

Set to meet on Danish soil in Viborg, the pair are in the unusual situation of having not met yet in the group, after Denmark had to pull out of their October meeting because of a pay dispute. “It was one of the worst times in my football career,” she reflected, with Sweden having been awarded a 3-0 victory due to the Danes' non-participation.

“We will be thinking about the three points we lost on the office table on Tuesday and I think it will provide us with more energy and power to make it through to the World Cup.”

While results have been mixed since losing out in the EURO 2017 final, their last two qualifiers have ended with an aggregate score of 10-2, with unity at an all-time high and the team having “stepped up to a higher level”.

Filled with drive at domestic and international level – Rosengard are hopeful of ending a two-season title drought, with a fierce title race in full swing – Troelsgaard has been rattling home the goals. A tally of six in as many matches during qualifying suggests that she could make the difference this week.

“We’re just hoping to make the dream of qualifying come true. Who knows? Maybe I can score the goal that sends us to the World Cup!”

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