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Malmo FF – Breaking The Curse

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.

 

Malmo FF women's team in Sweden have just started a new season, with a new coach and renewed hope. Simon Reeves looks at the state of the women's game in Sweden and ponders whether Anders Johansson can break Malmo FF's seven year curse.
 
Is he the one who is going to break the seven-year curse?
 
This is the question Swedish football fans are asking as new coach Anders Johansson leads female side Malmo FF in its quest to win the championship this season after spending the last seven as runners-up.
 
"I feel no pressure," insists the 35-year old who coached Alvsjo AIK to the title in 1999 after overpowering Malmo FF 2-0 in the final. "When a team comes second for so many times in a row, there's an inspiration to win."
 
"Our goal this season is to win the championship. To do this, we must win more matches and score more goals," he notes adding "we must keep our concentration through the entire season especially against the minnows."
 
After having identified the major problem as a lack of concentration, Johansson has moved to inject new blood into the club bringing in Finnish star Heidi Kackur, among others.
 
He is hoping that with a change of attitude his side can depose defending champions Umea and brush aside the challenge of Alvsjo, the two clubs that have kept Malmo FF at bay for the last seven years.
 
But many experts are having a hard time in agreeing with Coach Johansson. In fact, they predict the club will assume its usual second place spot while Umea will successfully defend their title.
 
On paper, Johansson's squad, based in and named after Sweden's third largest city, is the best side in the country. It has ten players on the national side, unlike champions Umea who have five, and was the only club last season not to lose a single match, winning 18 and drawing four times.
 
But winning the title is simply quite difficult in one of the best women's leagues in the world.
 
There are over 80 clubs at various levels in Sweden, topped by the 12 team premiership, known as Damallsvenskan. Though it has yet to rival the men's game in terms of attendance, the impressive average attendance of 703 last season is expected to go up this year.
 
Sweden are a highly respected force in the women's game. They have played in all the World Cup finals and were quarter-finalists in the USA four years ago.
 
The national side has recorded some remarkable victories this year. The 5-0 thrashing of Finland last month to book a place at the World Cup to be held in China later this year is the most notable. The team also won the Australia Cup last February: outclassing Australia 3-1, holding Mexico to a 1-1 draw, and drubbing South Korea 8-0.
 
Anders Johansson would certainly be happy with eight goals. He was probably happy with his side's two goals in the opening game of this season, played on 12 April against Djurgården/Älvsjö. He will be less happy that the opposition scored four!
 
There is a long season ahead.

 

Simon Reeves, April 2003

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