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FOOTBALL

Norway need Italy win to secure Euro 2016 place

Norway tomorrow faces the daunting challenge of besting the so-far unbeaten Italian squad for the first time since 2000, if it is to guarantee a place in next year's Euro 2016.

Norway need Italy win to secure Euro 2016 place
Alexander Toft Søderlund in a duel with Malta's Alex Muscat on Saturday. Photo: Cornelius Poppe / NTB scanpix

Italy are chasing a seventh win in 10 Euro 2016 qualifiers when they host Norway in Rome on Tuesday hoping to seal top spot in their group, their coach Antonio Conte has said.

Italy's 3-1 win Azerbaijan has give it a two-point cushion on Norway, who they face in their final qualifier in Rome.  But any thoughts Italy might take it easy at the Stadio Olimpico were quickly dispelled by the coach.  

“We will give Norway our utmost respect: in Rome it will be a great game,” he said.  

Norway is yet to seal a qualification for next summer's finals in France, with Per-Mathias Hogmo's men maintaining the second spot thanks to a patchy 2-0 win over Malta.

However, Croatia's 3-0 rout of Bulgaria means they sit only two points behind in third place. 

To secure the second of two automatic qualifying spots Norway need to beat Italy for the first time since 2000, when current Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and Conte, playing midfield, were on the end of a 1-0 defeat in Oslo.

Complicating matters for the visitors is the fact Croatia will be heavily tipped to claim an away win at Malta, who sit bottom of the group with just two points from nine games.

A Norway draw with Italy, combined with a Croatia win in Malta would see both sides finish on 20 points, although Croatia would finish in second place because they have scored more goals in direct fixtures between the sides.

Earlier in the campaign, Croatia beat Norway 5-1 in Zagreb and Norway beat Croatia 2-0 in Oslo.

Most of which should be of minor concern to Conte, who is intent on using Tuesday's qualifier as another stepping stone towards building what he terms his “little war machine” for next summer's tournament.

After two consecutive World Cup washouts, Italy, the four-time world champions, may no longer instill fear like they used to.

But Italy's rejuvenated side has given Conte an extra swagger.

“For France 2016 we're not among the favourites, and I can't tell you whether in Europe we're among the top four, the top six or the top 18,” said the former Juventus handler.

 “We're still growing as a squad and we still have plenty of work to do. But we're hoping to build our own little war machine.”

FOOTBALL

Nordic countries to launch joint bid to host 2027 World Cup

Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland want to jointly host the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2027.

Nordic countries to launch joint bid to host 2027 World Cup
Sweden players during this year's World Cup in France. Photo: Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The five Nordic nations want to share hosting duties for the 2027 edition of the World Cup finals and are to present the idea to the Nordic Council at a meeting in Stockholm on Tuesday, Danish football association DBU has confirmed.

FIFA is already positively disposed to joint bids for future finals tournaments, which has lent encouragement to the Nordic project, according to DBU's chairman Jesper Møller.

“We can see that support for women's football is here to stay, most recently at the (2019) World Cup in France, where matches were played in front of full stadiums and television viewers' interest was huge,” Møller said.

“A joint Nordic World Cup would not only ensure a fantastic experience for many football fans but will also strengthen important Nordic partnerships and community, and hopefully inspire many football-keen women and girls,” he continued.

“That's why support from the Nordic Council is important,” he added.

The Nordic Council (Nordisk Råd) is the official body for inter-parliamentary co-operation among the five Nordic countries and three territories of the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and the Åland Islands.

DBU is also looking into the possibility of hosting the 2025 European Championships in Denmark.

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