Maren Mjelde, captain of Norway, looks ahead to her summer in France with her national team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Mjelde has a wealth of experience at international level and having featured in the Norway side for more than a decade, she has accumulated over a 100 caps. France 2019 will be her third international tournament and the Norwegian skipper discusses all things World Cup here…
How excited are you to be going to your third World Cup?
‘I have been excited for a long time, but I’ve only been thinking about it recently. In the Chelsea environment we have had many important games with the club, but now it’s getting closer and I’m with my Norway team-mates, I can focus on it more.
‘It has been good to go back to Norway, I haven’t been back to Norway for a long time. We have had a good pre-camp and I’m looking forward to the start.’
What does it mean to be selected for the World Cup?
‘It means a lot, it’s the biggest tournament you can go to really and it’s going to be my third World Cup and I have different memories and experiences from both of them.
‘It’s going to be the biggest tournament ever, well that’s what they are saying so of course expectations are there for everyone.
‘It’s good that we have had three weeks together to prepare before it starts. We don’t see each other often so it’s important to do good preparation for the World Cup.’
Favourite memories from the previous tournaments?
‘For me playing in the Euros final in 2013 is a highlight, and then personally it would be my goal in Canada against Germany.
‘I have really good memories playing for Norway, but then of course I have bad memories because we got knocked out by England.’
Who do you think the favourites are?
‘I think it is probably the most open tournament ever because there is so many good nations and it’s all about getting in that flow and rhythm from the start.
‘France are playing at home, they have many good players and will have huge crowds behind them. USA won last time so they will always be one of the favourites.
‘Some will say England but I don’t think you can pick an obvious team, we want to be part of it also, but I think we are more like a dark horse.
‘I don’t think anyone can predict this World Cup and that’s why it’s so cool.’
What do you think about your group?
‘It’s a hard group. So we play Nigeria first which is a team I’ve never played against before and we know that African teams are really physical so it will be a different type of opponent that we are used to playing against. Second game is against France and third game is against Ji and South Korea.
‘We have known our opponents for a while now, so we are prepared. And if we get that momentum from the start then that could take us far. We are in a tough group so we need to be at our best, but we like challenges.’
Are family and friends travelling from Norway to support you?
‘My mum and dad always travel with four of their best friends to watch me play which is really cool. They have been to the World Cup in Canada and the Euros in Holland, so the six of them will come to every game this summer.
‘If we go further then I think other family members and friends will come out to support too.’
Will you be taking any home comforts?
‘I don’t normally take anything unusual with me but the good thing about this tournament is that we have a chef coming with us which we’ve never had before.
‘We always have brown cheese on bread as that’s the girls’ favourite – that is something we always bring as a treat and we will definitely have it with us in France!’
Norway begin their World Cup journey on 8 June with a match against Nigeria, followed by facing hosts France on 12 June and Ji So-Yun’s South Korea five days later.