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Rio 2016: Sundhage proud of underdog Sweden

Pia Sundhage was left emotional after guiding Sweden to the final of the Rio 2016 women’s football tournament on Tuesday.

Sweden provided the shock of the competition when they knocked out two-time defending champions United States – who were coached by Sundhage in 2008 and 2012 – in the quarter-finals on penalties last week.

They were the underdogs once again when they tackled hosts Brazil in the semi-finals, but held their nerve to seal a second shoot-out win. 

Now Sundhage is on the verge of winning a third straight Olympic gold medal as a coach, and she could not be prouder of her players.

“It is very emotional. I have been to the Olympic finals in Beijing [2008] and London [2012] but then I had a team everybody expected to do well,” she said.

“If you look at the road we have taken with the team we have it’s been a wonderful trip.

“We’ve made two upsets, but we will make sure that we will do our best.

“It is a different way we are playing, I have to say that. With the US team it was attacking football. Great personalities in the box. Now it is the other way round. It is very different, but emotionally I am filling up.

“It is hard to believe the fact that Sweden are going to be playing in the final – phew.”

Sundhage was also asked about comments made by USA goalkeeper Hope Solo, who labelled the Swedish style of play as cowardly. 

“Football is so much more than a comment here and there. It is more of our road that we have taken and the fact that the US team has always been winning a medal and we were very proud of the fact that it was us playing the semi and now the final and not the US,” she said. 

“What people are saying it is not a big deal as very often you say it and sometimes I don’t even think you mean it. We don’t make a big thing of it, we talk about football.”

Wed 17 Aug, 2016
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