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Australia’s Norwegian story set for latest chapter 

FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019™

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  • Australia’s connection with Norway an added sub-plot to the pair’s last 16 meeting
  • Third fixture between the sides in the past four World Cups
  • Seven current Matildas have played in Norway

By Pete Smith with Australia

Norway could barely be any further from Australia, yet the two countries enjoy a shared history in women’s football. They will write another instalment when they meet in the opening knockout match of the 2019 FIFA World Cup France™ in Nice.

Surprisingly seven Australian squad members have played in Norway. Perhaps even more unlikely is a direct family connection. Karly Roestbakken owes her Norwegian surname to father Jack, who was born in the Scandinavian country where he played second-tier football.

Saturday’s match-up on the French Riviera will be the third meeting in the past four Women’s World Cups between the pair. The Matildas knocked out the Gresshoppene in 2011 – the only time the 1995 world champions have failed to progress from the group stage.

Four years earlier at China 2007, Lisa De Vanna – the only survivor still in the Australian squad – pulled the Matildas level in a 1-1 group-stage draw. Australia won the other match to take place between the two nations this century, emerging 4-3 victors at last year’s Algarve Cup.

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One of Norway’s greatest footballing moments came in Sydney, with the nation winning the gold medal at the 2000 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament. Current Gresshoppene attacker Elise Thorsnes – who scored the goal in their defeat against Australia at Germany 2011 – is the only Norwegian to feature in the W-League, having enjoyed a highly productive spell with Canberra United a few years ago.

But the intertwining between the two nations is far more pronounced from an Australian perspective. Matildas’ attacking midfielder Tameka Yallop has spent the past couple of seasons at Klepp, while former Aussie visitors to Norway include Chloe Logarzo, Ellie Carpenter and Emily Gielnik.

“I was fortunate enough to play in Norway in 2017 and I know that they are a tough bunch,” said Logarzo who had a spell with Avaldsnes. “It is a Viking culture, so it is going to be a hard game. Getting stuck in [is a similarity between the two nation’s football cultures]. Aussies like a good scrap and so do they.”

Without a doubt, the most unlikely sub-plot for the knockout stage match is that of young Aussie full-back Roestbakken. A fortnight ago she was going through routine of off-season training in Sydney’s winter. Fast forward two weeks and the teenager, who was elevated to the squad on the eve of the tournament for injury-stricken Laura Alleway, is preparing to meet the nation of her father’s birth.

Dad has hastily managed to organise a trip to France, not that there will be any divided loyalties.

“For him to be there and see me walk out in this jersey, it means absolutely everything to him – and it means everything to me,” said the Canberra United utility player. “It’s so special.

“[My family] may be Norwegian, but they will definitely be putting the Matildas’ jersey on.”

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