Hedvig Lindahl reflects on Sweden’s Olympic run

Harjeet Johal September 21, 2016 70
Hedvig Lindahl emerged victorious in two penalty shootouts to help Sweden take home the silver medal at the Rio Olympics. (photo credit: Chelsea Ladies)

Hedvig Lindahl emerged victorious in two penalty shootouts to help Sweden take home the silver medal at the Rio Olympics. (photo credit: Chelsea Ladies)

LONDON, ENGLAND – It’s been just over one month since all the memorable moments from the Rio Olympic Women’s Football tournament. Germany took home gold after an exciting 2-1 gold medal final against underdog Sweden. Pia Sundhage’s squad wasn’t expected to reach the final, and at times struggled to make it out of Group E play. A lot of the success that Sweden had at the Olympics is down to goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl and her three clean sheets. Despite not winning the ultimate prize, the Chelsea Ladies shot stopper looks back on the tournament as a great experience and she’s happy Sweden was able to win a silver medal.

“Oh it feels good, we were close to getting an even better medal, but when that disappointment went away a bit, I was very happy and proud to be a silver medallist.”

Qualifying for the Rio Olympics was a challenging task for Sweden. A UEFA Olympic Qualifying Tournament took place in Holland in March. Sweden, Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland all played each other once in a short tournament. The winner earned the third and final UEFA Olympic spot at the Rio Olympics. Sweden was able to take the long road, and it was well with it according to Lindahl.

“Well it makes a better history doesn’t it,” said Lindahl. “The way we had to take to get to the Olympics to be in it. I guess it shows, don’t give up and you may reach your dreams. This was the first time a Swedish football team ever took a medial in the Olympics. It’s just breaking barriers and paving the way for the next generation.”

After a shocking showing at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Sweden was a surprise gold medal finalist against heavily rated Germany. Sweden’s ability to bunker down and play defensive football, played to their strengths. While some fans and opponents may not have liked the ‘park the bus’ strategy, it worked and proved to be successful.

“We have a lot of experienced players,” said Lindahl. “They’ve been in these games a lot of times and I think it was a feeling of, it’s now or never, a little bit. Combined with a lot of exciting new players, someone like Stina Blackstenius that just comes in and has not a big respect for any opponent, really. She just comes in and shows that she has an edge, and combined with us having a good knowledge in how to play defense.”

The lottery of penalties can always be a cruel way to decide a match. Sweden showed courage, concentration, and skill to overcome the United States and Brazil in heavy-pressured situations. It takes a lot of practice and dedication to become clinical at taking penalties, but you might be surprised by how often Sweden practiced a penalty shootout scenario.

“Not so often, actually,” admitted Lindhal. “I think that it’s more that you dig in your imaginary backpack and then you find something that you’ve practiced throughout your career. What set us apart in those two penalty shootouts, is that we kept calm and the other ones were stressed, I think.”

What was the key for Lindahl in those penalty shootouts?

“I was just calm and we had nothing to lose,” said Lindahl. “When you play with fear, which both the U.S. and Brazil did, I think. It’s harder to get everything out that you know you can. We had nothing to lose, you’re just playing to the best of our ability, that’s the secret.”

Hope Solo’s theatrics before facing Lisa Dahlqvist made headlines all over the football world. Switching goalkeeper gloves could have thrown off many footballers, but not Dahlqvist. She’s known as one of the most focused and zoned in players for Sweden. The 33 year-old Lindhal doesn’t quite disagree with Solo’s tactics.

“I think the glove change was her last straw trying to get into Lisa’s (Dahlqvist) head. I understand, she’s impressive in that way, she goes a long way to win and this time it didn’t work. If she would have thrown Lisa off, they probably would have won. I don’t use those methods, but it’s a common method to try to take time and get into the penalty shooters head.”

Heading into the 2017 European Championship tournament next summer, Sweden won’t be able to sneak up on opponents like they did in Rio. The defensive shape that they become known for will be studied by their opponents. A new strategy will have to be produced. Lindhal is hoping to be selected to the roster and would love to represent her country in another major tournament.

“This was obviously good for our confidence and giving something back for all the hard work everyone’s put in, especially comparing it to the bad World Cup we had the year before. It gives some energy. It’s a new campaign now and what we did in the Olympics will mean nothing in the Euro’s. The teams that we will meet will figure out those tactics so we’ll have to go with another one. It’s just about changing and the only constant thing is change.”

  • Craigaroo

    Nice article. Lindahl, of course, has been an excellent goalkeeper at the international level for many years but I thought she tended to get nervous in the biggest games. When I saw her jumping up and down, pumped up and excited at the end of added extra time and heading into the penalty kicks, I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be the USA’s day.

    • Ethan

      Nervous just in the biggest games? I think she’s been prone to errors in any kind of match for many years. She wasn’t great in the Olympic final either, spilling shots she should have held onto or at least parried away better. In her defense, she did surprise me with her very good play against the U.S. and Brazil.

      • Steglitz49

        A correct and fair assessment. Sweden’s answer to Sarah Bouhaddi.

        • Ethan

          I’d agree with that. Both have traditionally been capable of brilliant saves but have been capable of huge blunders at the same time. I don’t know if Bouhaddi’s put together two very good consecutive performances like Lindahl had in the quarterfinal and semifinal though.

          • Steglitz49

            Agreed.

    • Observed

      She let in 5 goals vs Brazil in the Olympics.

  • FawcettFan14

    Lindahl’s level-headed comments, even when discussing a volatile person like Hope Solo, are so typically Swedish. They just don’t get upset easily. 🙂

    In other news, the Euro 2017 field is almost complete.
    Netherlands (hosts), Germany (holders, many times over), Norway, Sweden, Denmark, England, Scotland, Iceland, Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Russia. The 16th and final spot will be determined in a home-and-home series between Romania and Portugal.

    • MurderOnZidanesFloor

      Belgium, Scotland and Austria are all going to their first ever major tournament. Romania or Portugal will be new faces too. Great to see some of these sides improving, Portugal especially were not expected to get anywhere near this far with Spain, Finland and Ireland in their group.

      • Steglitz49

        Do you think that RedBull will chip in and help their Austrian lasses?

      • FawcettFan14

        The Finns really botched things here at the end. They were poised to qualify directly as a group runner-up, or at least make the playoff. Instead, they did neither.

        You feel bad for Romania, they were also on course to qualify until Russia scored a 5th goal versus Croatia. A slightly lesser 4-0 Russia win would have qualified Romania!

        That said, Portugal also would be a fun story, having defeated both Finland and Ireland this month to sneak into the playoff. Plus having generously hosted the Algarve Cup all these years, would be nice for them to make it. They have a player on Chelsea (Borges?) who is a fun one to watch.

        • Steglitz49

          The Fins hosted Euro-09 and played in Euro-13. What went wrong? Too much vodka?

        • JL

          Plus Portugal had a tougher group than Romania did. France was the only tough team in Romania’s group.

      • Steglitz49

        Let’s hope all those years of hosting the Algarve Cup pays dividends.

      • JL

        It’s not Switzerland’s first major tournament, but it is their first Euro. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that.

      • Tom F

        Any replays/streams of the Belgium/England match? And I guess also of the Sweden/Denmark as well. Surprised Sweden lost that one 0-2, especially since they used essentially the same lineup that kicked the US out of the Olympics. But then again, the Danes Pernell Harder is one of the best & most underrated players in the world today. I would rate her as perhaps the 3rd best forward(next to Hegerberg & Morgan), but I believe is a AM on the Danish NT

        • Steglitz49

          It was not the same line up, but never mind.

          Pernille.

        • MurderOnZidanesFloor

          I watched England vs Belgium but haven’t seen a replay posted anywhere, I’d imagine there will be one coming, warning you the first half is pretty dull though. I’m hoping Denmark vs Sweden shows up somewhere too because it sounds like it might have been worth a watch.

          Pernille Harder is class. She is definitely one of the best players around right now. If Linkoping can beat Rosengard to the title this year she’s very likely to be player of the year in Sweden again, she might end up with top scorer too, and if she doesn’t its likely going to be because she sets up Blackstenius too often!

          • Tom F

            Looks like Sampson definitely wanted speed up front with Carter, Perris and Carney, with Daly coming in as sub. But the mids having a tough time taking charge. I guess England’s still looking for it’s own version of Ji?

          • Steglitz49

            Pernille became last season’s Footballer of the Year in Sweden. She was also second in the goalscoring league.

            This season Pernille leads with 17 goals of which 3 are from penalties, while Blackstenius has 16 but no penalties. Pernille is 3rd in the assist league this season.

    • Steglitz49

      16 teams covering countries where in total less young ladies play soccer than in the US, letalone including Canada and Mexico, the co-founders of the NWSL.

      The solution for the USSF is obvious. Now they must act on it. Avancéz!

    • Chak Khan

      Where to watch those games? Are they even broadcasted?

      • Steglitz49

        The Denmark-Sweden was broadcast live on Swedish TV. Hanna Marklund provided the expert commantary from the studio in her usual inimitable style and word choice. I can’t remember who was the “color” commentator.

        The stadium in Denmark was sold out (except the standing sections that can’t be used for international matches.)

        • Chak Khan

          I meant to ask where to watch EURO 17

          • Steglitz49

            It is expected that Euro-17 will be shown live on some some regular channels, like BBC, ARD (or ZDF) and Swedish TV. Eurosport has always shown a lot of WoSo.

            Thus, as long as you can access one of those through the web, it is easy. The BBC commentary is in English. I guess that a US station could buy the BBC transmission but I doubt it.

  • Rdalford

    Interesting article and perspective from Lindahl – and not at all cowardly : )

    • Steglitz49

      “The choice was war or dishonor. They chose dishonor.”

  • Steglitz49

    “In victory, magnanimity”

  • Gary Diver

    Question: Previous to the OG16 QF PK shootout, when was the last time Alex Morgan shot a PK?

    • Ethan

      1) In a match, PK in a preseason friendly against a college team for Orlando. Not a good penalty but she scored it. It was along the ground, but it was close to the same placement as all her other ones (seemed slightly more central).

  • mockmook

    Because I have a social conscience and I am very brave, I have decided that I must post this comment on every article at the EQ. I am following in the footsteps of that great paragon of civil disobedience, Megan Rapinoe — therefore, no one who values free speech can possibly object to me commenting here, regardless how “off-topic” I am — it is my right and my duty. Now, my comment:

    Abortion is murder. It injures the souls of those who carry it out and those who have the procedure.

    And, the worst part is, this procedure is causing a virtual genocide against the black race — approximately 45% of all black pregnancies are aborted (three times worse than the rate among whites).

    Talk about injustice!!!

    I look forward to the incredibly productive conversation that this will generate.

    I’ll leave you with this beautiful musical celebration of babies by an artist who has unassailable PC credibility, I’m all about inclusion — heck, she has even slept with other women — take it away, Sinead:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkCXQBY4q7w

    • Lorehead

      Are you still at this? Will you at least stop bragging how very brave you are for posting anonymously to avoid any personal consequences? You do at least realize how stupid that one line sounds.

      • mockmook

        Sorry, I didn’t realize how dense my audience was — a moments reflection would make obvious the sarcasm throughout much of my “protest”.

        • Lorehead

          That’s exactly my point. Megan Rapinoe is being brave; she’s risking her job over this. You want to compare this to what she’s doing, but if you were really as brave as her, you would risk your own job over it (if you are currently working for someone else).

          • mockmook

            Do I need to give you a definition for “sarcasm”? The density just grows.

          • Lorehead

            So, you were not satirizing Megan Rapinoe, who you acknowledge really is brave. You were satirizing your own self-image? Were you aware of this?

          • mockmook

            I forgot that “liberals” have such fragile egos that they are never self deprecating — they don’t even understand it.

          • Lorehead

            Okay, so, to be clear, what you are saying is that Megan Rapinoe really is brave, and that you are not? Your point is that we should respect her for putting herself at personal risk for her principles, something you have not done?

          • mockmook

            So, to be clear, you are obsessed about something, extremely annoying, and not very bright.

            I’ll let others be the judge of that.

          • Lorehead

            Is Megan Rapinoe being brave, by standing up to her boss? Are you?

          • mockmook

            Are you?

          • Lorehead

            Not in this way, and I didn’t mock someone who is brave for being correctly called brave. Nor did I say that what I was doing was equivalent to what she is doing.

          • mockmook

            All Babies is a beautiful song, no?

          • Lorehead

            I only wish you had more empathy for women such as her who have had abortions. Really, the lyrics, “All babies are born singing God’s name,” pretty clearly disagree with the idea that embryos or fetuses are babies, if you actually listen to them.

          • mockmook

            Ugh, everything is politics with you. Sorry, I asked — for a moment I thought I was talking to a human. Don’t worry, I won’t make that mistake again.

          • Lorehead

            Oh come on. We have had many conversations that were not about politics. This time? You said you were setting out to annoy people just like Megan Rapinoe annoyed you, and after the sixth or seventh time, you really did annoy me. That took the form of pointing out how your “protest” was not nearly as clever as you thought it was.

          • Observed

            Mock employs the same wrong wing tactics as Trump in his rhetoric. When caught out in a lie, shift focus, attack the opponent and accuse them of doing what you were doing. Works like a charm.

          • Lorehead

            Both sides don’t do everything equally often, but that’s something both sides do about equally often.

          • Arcie Tillydee

            Good grief, Lore…just stop! Block that trolling cretin and have done with it.

          • Lorehead

            He has worthwhile things to say on a lot of other topics, so I’m not at the point of blocking him yet, but several people have asked me to stop arguing with him about politics, so I’m going to take that advice. I think I’ve made my point anyway.

          • Arcie Tillydee

            Okay, fair enough. He’s tolerable when he posts about soccer. But he’s acted like a boorish spoiled child enough that blocking him was the best call for me. YMMV…

          • Lorehead

            I’m not questioning your decision about who’s worth reading. Your call.

          • Hugo

            From what I was reading over the last years here in the forum from you I got the impression that you are a smart, very reasonable and fair person.
            .
            I recommend ignoring mockmook on that topic
            .
            mockmook thinks he needs to defend EVERYTHING what he thinks is somehow against the US.
            .
            It’s kind of a reflex. You can compare him with weltmeister (the same way of thinking but for different countries). And it was absolutely logically that mockmook was often the first one hitting back when weltmeister wrote something stupid.
            .
            For mockmook Rapinoes protest is anti-American and hence you won’t be able to have a fruitful discussion with him

          • mockmook

            “mockmook thinks he needs to defend EVERYTHING what he thinks is somehow against the US.”

            Incorrect.

            Much of the USA and its institutions are dominated by “liberal” polices — those USA things deserve much criticism.

            Regardless, I don’t defend the USA simply for being the USA, I defend liberty and the rights of the individual over the collective.

          • Thomas Jefferson

            It’s “We the People”, not Me the Individual.

          • mockmook

            It’s “We the People” being protected from out of control government and other enemies of liberty.

            That’s why “We” aren’t a democracy. Per the Founders, “We” can’t vote away an individual’s Rights.

          • mockmook

            “I only wish you had more empathy for women such as her who have had abortions.”

            I guess you are God — claiming to be able to see into my heart. OK then.

          • Lorehead

            Should we give Megan Rapinoe the same courtesy? Is it appropriate to impugn her motives?

          • mockmook

            WTH are you babbling about now?

          • Lorehead

            Can people here look into her heart and accuse her of being in this for the publicity? Or should you be as generous toward her as you just demanded I be of you? And you should have more respect for what Sinead O’Connor has said about her own personal experience with abortion. You used her song to make a point she would strongly disagree with herself, and called her a murderer.

          • mockmook

            I used her song because it is beautiful. Babies are beautiful too. But, being a soulless political obsessive, you wouldn’t notice.

          • Observed

            You are the obsessed one, preaching about abortion in every EQ article. And Lorehead is correct, you are trying to evade his point by shifting the focus of the issue. Are you Trump?

          • mockmook

            “You are the obsessed one, preaching about abortion in every EQ article.”

            You realize this was to mimic the obsession of the EQ with Rapinoe, right? Or, are you as thick as Lorehead?

            What point?

  • Steglitz49

    Only 35 comments and on top of that 18 out of 35 (more than half) are irrelevant and slugfets between two perosns.

    In short 17 comments.

    • Gary Diver

      I assume you noticed that this article was written by one of your favorite writers and one who has written on European soccer in the past before Canadian soccer caught her fancy.

      • Steglitz49

        Harjeet covered Euro-13 admirably, writing from Sweden travelling between locations by train and coach. She did it at her own expense, I think. She had written for the EQ for some months before that trip.

        I am not sure what Harjeet does for a living. I got the impression that she started writing on the EQ as a way of getting experience and building her CV but she has been at it for more than 3 years now. (She may even be Canadian rather than American.)

        • Lorehead

          She lives in Vancouver, B.C., yes. Her online profile just says she’s a journalist, but she almost has to have a day job.

    • Steg Patrol

      Only 57 comments by S49troll.

      • Steglitz49

        There are only 53 comments on this article so far and this one will be the 54th, so you need to go back to school and relearn your 3Rs.

  • Steglitz49

    Loes Geurts, the Dutch WNT keeper, is moving from Göteborg in Sweden to PSG.

    The negotiations around Geurts have been underway between Gbg and PSG for some time and now they have reached an agreement. Geurts has signed a 2 year contract with the Paris-club – who in their turn lose their goalie Erin Nayler (NZ) to Lyon. No financial details have been disclosed.

  • guest

    If only all lesbians could be like Hedwig!