Sweden’s women’s football team is intent on capitalizing on home advantage to claim Euro 2013.
The football tournament is set to attract large crowds across the country with matches being played in seven different locations.
“It feels like this Euro is our Euro,” striker Sofia Jakobsson told Uefa.com.
Coach Pia Sundhage’s side are third favourites for the crown trailing France and current champs Germany. Sweden claimed the bronze at last year’s Olympic Games, where the gold was won by the United States, who were then coached by Sundhage.
“She has brought a lot of good energy, to get all the players to show what they are capable of, even more than before,” said Jakobsson, who is the top scorer in the FA Women’s Super League for Chelsea’s ladies.
Sweden’s preparations for the tournament were thrown into jeopardy when assistant coach Birger Jacobsson quit on the eve of the tournament. The side have been in impressive form, however, beating England 4-1 in a recent friendly.
Anita Asante, an England international who plays her club football for Gothenburg in western Sweden, said the women’s game attracts a lot of interest in her adopted country.
“Swedes are very passionate about the game and the domestic league is well supported with big games hosting 2-3,000 supporters,” she told the BBC. “No doubt they will have the whole country behind them, so they will be strong contenders.”
The Swedes won the inaugural ladies Uefa European Championship in 1984, but haven’t reached the final since 2001. Germany have won the last five tournaments and are strong favourites with the bookmakers.
Playing at home is a source of inspiration for the players said forward Jakobsson.
“To experience a Euro at home and be a part of it, and you have to smile every time you think about it. It feels super great.”
The hosts have been drawn in Group A with Italy, Denmark and Finland and will play their matches in Gothenburg and Halmstad. The final will be played in the new Friends Arena in Solna, north Stockholm on July 28th.