Red FlamesAlmost two years ago, the Flames qualified for the European Championship. 4-0 against Switzerland. With that score, the Belgian women are close to qualifying for the World Cup tonight. It will be another one for history in Leuven. For the first time, Den Dreef is sold out with more than 8,000 people for a game of the Flames – thanks in part to cheap tickets, which is always the case in women’s football.
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Everything still looks like it was before the English summer: the sun in Tubize, the cool wind and the magnificent grass. If you look closely, you will see that European Championship heroine Nicky Evrard & co have a new goalkeeper coach. Jan Van Steenberghe, ex-Club and ex-Standard. Anyone who has followed it also knows that a group trains here that received a surge of confidence at the European Championships. Weather and grass are the same, yes, but things have changed.
Tessa Wullaert: “We play to win. For us to qualify directly it has to be 4-0, 5-1 or something like that. Even winning 2-0 is good and if it is 1-1 in the last minute we will do everything we can to make it 2-1. We have the confidence.”
To go over Norway they really have to score a lot of goals. The points are also important in order to have the best starting position in the jump-off.
Why do they beat Norway tonight?
Ives Serneels: “We believe in it. That’s the basics. We have the quality to hurt Norway and we have the quality to take care of Norway.”
Norway has sacked the national coach after the 8-0 against England and the elimination by Austria. It must miss Graham Hansen (Barcelona). She is resting because of heart problems. Of the party: Ada Hegerberg (Chelsea). Wullaert thinks Hansen is better than Hegerberg anyway and has information straight from the Norwegian camp. “They are afraid of us. But, no, we are not a favourite. They want to prove something. We remain mainly women who work and study and they are professionals.” Serneels still underlines Norway’s physical ability and warns against standard situations.
With the fire of the European Championship and the defensive balance cultivated there, the Flames can never concede four goals against as in the first leg. Can they make four? Probably not. But. If it doesn’t work out tonight, there are still the play-offs, if necessary in two rounds. And even in February there are still a few things to do. It would be a shame to wait that long. If the 10% ticket buyers who never show up make the wrong choice, tomorrow will be a party at Den Dreef in Leuven for a record number of fans of the Red Flames.
What have we learned from the Red Flames, who made it to the quarterfinals at the European Championship? Our man in England puts everything in order
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