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Swede Sundhage named FIFA coach of the year

Swedish football coach Pia Sundhage, who last summer led the US women's national team to a second straight Olympic gold medal before taking over as manager in her home country, broke into song after being named FIFA Women's World Coach of the Year on Monday.

Swede Sundhage named FIFA coach of the year

Upon accepting the award at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala 2013 in Zurich, Sundhage – sporting a sparkling shirt reading “Sweden in 2013” – thanked staff and US players before breaking into an a cappella version of Bob Dylan’s If Not for You (see video below).

“I wanted to surprise people and at the same time show that I’m the same old Pia,” the 52-year-old Sundhage told the Expressen newspaper following the ceremony.

“It feels great to win this award and it was moving to see and meet several of the American players. But now it’s time to move on because we have a European championship to host this summer.”

Sundhage took over as coach of the US women’s team in 2007, leading the team to Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008 less than a year later with a victory over Brazil.

After settling for a hard-fought silver in the 2011 World Cup following a loss to Japan on penalties, Sundhage’s women mounted an impressive Olympic campaign in London, avenging their World Cup loss to Japan to once again claim gold.

Sundhage completed her tenure as US coach with an 88-6-10 record before agreeing in early September to take over as coach of the Swedish women’s national team, where she starred as a player during a nearly 20-year career, scoring 71 goals in 146 appearances.

She is now preparing her squad for the 2013 European championships, which will take place in Sweden.

Monday’s FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala also saw Barcelona star Lionel Messi win an

unprecedented fourth consecutive player of the year award, while the United States’ Abby Wambach was named the best women’s player of 2012.

Meanwhile, Spain’s Vicente del Bosque was named men’s coach of the year.

The Local/dl

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FOOTBALL

Sweden and Denmark climb seven places in Fifa rankings

Sweden climbed seven places to 18th and Denmark moved up to 12th in the latest Fifa world rankings released on Thursday.

Sweden and Denmark climb seven places in Fifa rankings
Both Sweden and Denmark moved up in the Fifa rankings. Photo: Krivosheev/Depositphotos

The top-five remained unchanged with world champions Germany leading the way from Brazil, Portugal, Argentina and Belgium.

Sweden's victory over Italy in the World Cup playoffs helped them move up, as did Denmark's success against Ireland.

Both Scandinavian countries moved up seven places to 18th and 12th respectively after ousting their opponents.

Despite their loss to Sweden denying them a place at the World Cup for the first time in 60 years, Italy still moved up one place to 14th.

It wasn't such good news for British teams as England dropped three places to 15th despite a pair of credible 0-0 draws with Germany and Brazil recently.

Wales paid for their failure to reach the World Cup finals by dropping five places to 19th.

Fifa rankings as of November 23rd

1. Germany
2. Brazil
3. Portugal
4. Argentina
5. Belgium
6. Spain (+2)
7. Poland (-1)
8. Switzerland (+3)
9. France (-2)
10. Chile (-1)
11. Peru (-1)
12. Denmark (+7)
13. Colombia
14. Italy (+1)
15. England (-3)
16. Mexico
17. Croatia (+1)
18. Sweden (+7)
19. Wales (-5)
20. Netherlands