Norway 1-1 Iceland: Martin Sjögren left wanting more from his team

After their tight draw against Iceland we spoke to Norway coach Martin Sjögren about the match and the importance of improvement.

Close but not quite

Despite the high-tempo, Norway struggled to create many clear chances in the first-half and break down the Iceland defence after opening the scoring inside the first five minutes,

I thought we were quite poor in the first-half, we started the half well with a nice goal and some good attacking play but we didn’t really come up to the standard that we did in the second game in La Manga – but we’ve also been away from each other for quite a while and only played two sessions before this.

He continued, “We played a very aggressive Iceland in the first twenty minutes then they fell back and were covering space, so we played against two different styles of defending during the first-half which made it a little hard for us. But after a good talk at half-time we came out in the second-half and we improved quite a bit from the first-half and found the space in front of their back four a little bit more often. We came, not all the way but, pretty close to scoring a second.

With Norway racing out of the blocks at the whistle, the home fans in the crowd would have been wanting to see a second goal form the Football Girls but invariably an early goal doesn’t always mean a goal-fest,

I’ve seen this before, when you score early it’s one of two things that happen; you score again and you can win 5-0 or things happen, just like what happened here, it’s pretty poor defending from our left-back but these things happen and it’s a good finish.

The left-back in question, Elise Thorsnes who is more familiar to fans as an attacker but since Sjögren has come in the Avaldsnes striker has been preferred over clubmate, Andrine Tomter. Whilst it’s clear from watching her, she’s unaccustomed to the role, she had two very good outings in Spain earlier in the year and Sjögren is keen for her to continue to develop in the new role,

She plays a striker in her club team and she’s been used as a full back in the national team and she had two pretty good games in La Manga but you can see she’s not used to the position so we need to give her some time so she can get used to playing as a left-back again. Sometimes it looks a little bit weird but sometimes it looks really good as well so we’ll see, we’ll see what we do of it but at least we have an idea of trying it.

Lack of finish

Even with a late flurry of chances for the Grasshoppers, Iceland stayed resolute and refused to concede again, despite not finding a win, the coach was happy to see his side continue to create right until the death,

I always think that you need to create a certain amount of chances to score and if you look into the statistics today I think we created a decent amount to be able to win the game 2-1 but it’s all up to quality in the last phase of the attack. Today we didn’t really have it, we were close but they [Iceland] did some good defending as well, blocking the shots as well. I’m always disappointed when we don’t win but it’s also the process we’re in right now, sure the result will always be important but we have to focus on more of the process than the results at the moment because we’re such a new team and a new coaching staff and we’re implementing a new style of play and so we need to be patient.

With Norway much changed since the start of the year, Sjögren and his team still have much learning about each other to do, but the main focus for the coach will always be striving for improvements on the pitch,

I wouldn’t say it’s only about learning, it’s always about creating results but we’re in the process of improving and that has to be the main focus I think. At the moment it’s important to focus on the process and not the results but on the other hand if you have a good process and you improve you have a greater chance of actually getting the result so you can’t just put the result aside but for now I want to see improvement, that’s the major thing and we if see improvement then we’ll always win football games.