Soccer-Swedes seek Euro revenge after Olympic gold miss

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden’s women’s team are heading to the upcoming European Championship in England with a score to settle after being pipped to the 2020 Olympic gold medal by Canada in a penalty shoot-out, and this time their sights are firmly set on winning.

The Olympic final, held last year in Tokyo, marked the second successive time Sweden finished as silver medallists, but they are determined to capture the big prize on offer this summer.

“We were so disappointed that we didn’t win that gold medal. That was everything we wanted at the moment, and we still want to get that revenge. We’re looking forward to getting a new chance,” striker Stina Blackstenius told Reuters.

The 26-year-old Arsenal forward was one of a number of Swedes who took part in a tournament pre-camp in Stockholm for players who ply their trade abroad as they wait for their home-based colleagues to join them.

“It’s something that we really want to bring to Sweden, to inspire the new generation here,” goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, who has just finished the season in Spain with Atletico Madrid, told Reuters.

“We had a team that won it (the Euros) in 1984, and since then, we’ve been in the top for so, so many, so many years, and we are worthy of winning it again. So it’s more that I feel like it’s our turn.”

The Swedes have traditionally been something of a superpower in women’s football, but despite a slew of appearances in semi-finals and finals, that sole European title in 1984 remains their only major international tournament victory to date.

For captain Magdalena Eriksson, who just won the Women’s Super League for the third year in a row with Chelsea, the tournament couldn’t come at a better time.

“It’s amazing that this tournament is taking place right now in women’s football because I think it will be the biggest so far,” she told Reuters.

“I know the English football culture, I know how much everyone loves football there. So I think it will be a really, really good celebration of women’s football.”

Lindahl, who has turned 39 and may be appearing at her last major tournament, knows that finally getting her hands on a winners medal won’t be easy.

“It will take a lot, because the competition is very high. A good squad, a good system,” she said.

“Obviously, a great deal of luck – luck with who you’re going to play next (after the group stage) and so on. So it’s not easy to win the European Championship.”

The tournament starts on July 6, with Sweden, coached by Peter Gerhardsson, set to compete in Group C with reigning champions Netherlands, Switzerland and Portugal.

(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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