‘Leggy’ Swedes have no advantage: coach

'Leggy' Swedes have no advantage: coach
Women's football team in training session before meeting Japan on Wednesday.
Sweden coach Thomas Dennerby is playing down suggestions that the Japanese will be at a height disadvantage when playing the "long-legged" Swedes for Wednesday's semi-final in the women's World Cup.

The Swedes beat Australia 3-1 in Sunday’s quarter-final to book their place in the last four and while Dennerby thinks the set-pieces will be a factor, he is more concerned about how well the Japanese pass the ball.

To compare the height of the two squads, Japan has only one player over 1.70m tall, while Sweden have only five players under 1.70m.

Sweden drew 1-1 with Japan in a pre-World Cup warm-up game in Bochum in

late June and Japanese midfielder Aya Miyama admits her team struggled against the taller Scandinavians.

“The Swedish players are big and they have very long legs, especially in one-on-one situations, our legs can’t reach out so far, so we have to be careful of those longs legs,” she said with a grin.

But Sweden’s Dennerby played down the height factor, refusing to underestimate the team spirit Japan showed to shock hosts Germany and knock out the defending champions with a 1-0 victory in Saturday’s quarter-final.

“They are a nice team to play, because they like to pass the ball well and play it on the ground, they are also very compact,” said Dennerby.

“When the ball is on the ground it doesn’t matter how tall your players

are, it’s not basketball.”

“Look at the great players like (Lionel) Messi or Maradona, they aren’t


“It’s very hard to beat Germany in Germany, we know Japan are going to be

one of the teams you can count on,” Dennerby said.

“They are a strong team, they have key players like (captain Homare) Sawa,

she is a really good player, probably one of the best in the tournament.”

Sweden skipper Caroline Seger admitted Japan’s historic win over the Germans had not been easy viewing.

“I watched the game against Japan and I got stressed a few times about how fast they moved the ball and used the spaces,” said the 25-year-old.

“They are a great team and also not conceding any goals against Germany is

impressive in itself.”

While Sweden striker Lotta Schelin is suffering with a cold, she is expected to be fit to play and Seger gave a blunt response when asked how her team will break the Japanese resistance.

“How will we break their defence? We will score more goals,” she said with

a smile.

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