Tuesday 07 June 2016, 09:27

Dahlkvist: Sweden going for gold

For most athletes, in most sports, there is no greater achievement than winning a gold medal at the Olympic Games. Nevertheless, the journey to the top step of the podium is an arduous one – as Lisa Dahlkvist knows all too well.

The 29-year-old was in Sweden’s squad for the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament at London 2012 as she and her team exited the competition at the quarter-final stage. The result prolonged the Scandinavians’ wait for a medal, with fourth place at Athens 2004 their best finish to date.

If Dahlkvist gets her way, the waiting will finally be over this year. When asked in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com if her team have what it takes to win gold in Rio, she confidently responded: "Yes. Of course we’ll have to play well in all our group stage games. It will be hard, and everyone in the team will need to be at their best, but if we can do that and get everything together then I think we have a chance."

The Blågult already seized one such opportunity in their Olympic qualifying campaign, defeating Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands during a mini-tournament hosted by the latter between 2 and 9 March 2016 to book their tickets to Brazil. "Those three games brought us together more and more,” explained the Stockholm-born midfielder. Summing up Sweden’s strengths in just a few words, she added: "We play very quick football and have a good defence. We work very hard together and have a good team spirit."**

Old adversaries await in the group stage The Swedes will need to draw on all of these strengths if they are to successfully navigate the group stage. They will face some formidable opponents in Brazil – for whom five-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Marta has once again been demonstrating her goalscoring prowess of late – as well as China PR and South Africa.

"It’s a hard group, but fun too," Dahlkvist said with a smile. "These are very different teams that we have played against many times. Brazil are on home turf. They’re supposed to reach the final and that’s what they want to do. They played very well against Canada. They want to have a good tournament at the Olympics and I think they will."

The fact that most of the attention in Group E will be focused on Marta and her colleagues could be an advantage for coach Pia Sundhage’s side. "There’s a lot of pressure on them, so that’s good for us," explained the four-time Swedish champion. "But if they work really hard and turn that into positive energy, they’ll get good support. It all depends on whether the team can handle the pressure."

Family support is vital Dahlkvist will draw on her recent experiences in France as she sets out to realise her dream of a gold medal. Having spent the vast majority of her career on home soil, the midfielder – who made her international debut back in 2008 – signed for top-flight French side Paris Saint-Germain in 2015 and does not regret her decision.

"It has been very good for me,” she reflected. “In France the game is much more technical. I’ve developed my technique and my short passing. I think if you want to believe in yourself you have to do it on your own. I’ve been in Sweden all my life, so when you come to another country you have to do something – and I think I did. Playing against good teams like Barcelona and Lyon helped.“

The 29-year-old also draws strength from the support of her family, who appear to share her footballing genes. Dahlkvist has certainly inherited her talent from father Sven, who won 39 caps for Sweden between 1979 and 1985 and was named the country’s Footballer of the Year in 1984.

"My whole family are very important to me and they watch all my games,” she said. “My dad and my sister are the people I talk to the most and after some matches I ask them what they thought. It’s really nice to have a family that can tell you exactly what they think. That’s very important to me."

Related Documents