On the heels of the great victory over Germany (in a friendly), Norway promptly lost at South Africa (2-1) and came from behind to beat Finland at home (3-2).
Although the FIFA rankings aren’t the most accurate system ever conceived, they do give a rough idea of the quality of teams.
- Germany: 2nd
- Norway: 45th
- Finland: 57th
- South Africa: 72nd
If Norway hopes to qualify for the World Cup, it’s going to have to have a lot better results against teams worse than it. I’m not sure these last two results are that good an omen.
In surprising soccer related news (via my favorite soccer blogger):
*According to FIFA, the country that has requested the most World Cup tickets (other than host South Africa) is the United States. Go figure. Britain is third, followed by Germany, Italy and Australia.
Yes, that would be 59th ranked Norway beating 2nd ranked Germany in Düsseldorf. With the win, Norway moved up to 56th in the February FIFA rankings and, more importantly, gave its fans a glimmer of hope.
Nordic Football News had the following to say:
It was vintage Drillo from Norway, only a paltry 22% possession, but for a manager who believes that having the ball is inherently a bad thing this is as it should be. For those fleeting moments the ball was under Norwegian control the men in red made the most of it, surging forwards with pace and determination. While Christian Grindheim’s winning goal may have come as a result of some diabolical defending, it was no less than Norway deserved after having gone close through Torstein Helstad and Per Ciljan Skjelbred.
“Good, but not good enough,” was Drillo’s conclusion after the game, being a man who understands how to push the public’s buttons. Instead of basking in victory he, well aware of his public image as a slightly dour professor-type, chose to focus on what he wasn’t all that pleased about. “We played too slowly at times,” he said, but in spite of what was coming out of his mouth experienced Drillo-watches will have noticed an uncharacteristic glint in his eye. This was the perfect start to his second spell in charge of the Norwegians and he knew it.
It may have been a meaningless friendly, but for a Norway team desperate to re-capture the affection of their country and a manager desperate to prove a point it meant quite a lot.
It was only a friendly, but it sure seemed to mean something around here.