Part of the Norway team beaten by Germany in a dramatic UEFA EURO 2013 decider, Trine Rønning is already looking forward to the teams’ Canada 2015 Group B clash.
A veteran of three FIFA Women’s World Cups, one Olympic Football Tournament and four UEFA Women’s EUROs, there is little that Norway centre-back Trine Rønning has not seen and done in the beautiful game. And having come agonisingly close on more than one occasion, the 32-year-old cannot wait for her next tilt at a first major international honour: the Women’s World Cup Canada 2015.
“We know that Canada are going to be great hosts and we’re expecting huge interest and a lot of spectators. That’s not something we’re very used to domestically so it’s really exciting for us,” said Rønning, who on 10 February was appointed Norway’s permanent captain, having stepped in for previous incumbent Ingvild Stensland four times in Women’s World Cup qualifying. “Being captain is a huge honour and I’m so proud when I wear the armband. Rather than feeling any pressure, it makes me even more motivated.
“Our main strength is the fact we treat every opponent with respect. We always put the same effort into our preparations, regardless of who we’re up against,” continued the Stabæk stalwart, speaking exclusively to Women’s Soccer United, on a qualifying campaign that saw the 1995 world champions finish top of Group 5 with nine wins from ten games – scoring 41 goals to just five conceded. “As a central defender, my main objective is to prevent goals and the team and I did that particularly well. We’ve worked a lot on the team’s structure and I think that in qualifying we kept that structure together in all our games, with each of us managing to carry out the tasks we were asked to do.”
Their passage to Canada 2015 thus secured, the Landslaget have been drawn in an intriguing Group B, alongside Côte d’Ivoire, Thailand and eight-time European champions Germany – the team that sank Rønning and Co in the finals of both EURO 2005 and EURO 2013. “We’re looking forward to facing all three teams, but of course we won’t be short of motivation against Germany,” said Rønning, whose first-half penalty was one of two spot-kicks saved by Nadine Angerer in Germany’s 1-0 success in the 2013 continental decider.
In stark contrast to Germany, winners at both USA 2003 and China PR 2007, neither Côte d’Ivoire nor Thailand have previously made it to the Women’s World Cup, which come this summer will feature 24 nations for the very first time. “I think that expanding this tournament is a very smart way of boosting the evolution of women’s football,” was Rønning’s verdict on the change. “If we want the game to make progress we have to keep strengthening the sport on a global basis, and that means giving countries the chance to test themselves at the highest level possible. And there’s no higher level than the Women’s World Cup.”
And having made her senior national-team debut all the way back in 1999, there are few players better placed to judge the growth of the women’s discipline over that period. “I participated in my first Women’s World Cup in 2003 and since then football has improved in every way,” said Rønning, a Norwegian league winner on six occasions, as our conversation concluded. “The players are quicker, the ball is moved around faster, the level of technique is higher – women’s football as a whole is much more professional. As we’ll all see in Canada, the competition is getting fiercer all the time and, if you want to succeed, you can’t afford not to keep up.”
UK-born but currently based in Spain, I’ve been covering men’s and women’s football for UEFA.com for several years, including trips to two Women’s U-19 European Championships