Norway struggle to restore squad harmony after Caroline Graham Hansen spat

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Caroline Graham Hansen, a 28-year-old player from Norway, has expressed regret for her outburst after being excluded by coach Hege Riise for their World Cup match against Switzerland.

However, there is still a need to reconcile and find harmony within the team before their last group game. 

In order to advance in the tournament, Norway must defeat the Philippines in their final Group A match on Sunday. This will require finding a balance between the collective strength of the Scandinavian team and the exceptional skills of certain individual players.

Graham Hansen attributed her decision to publicly express her dissatisfaction with being benched during the scoreless draw with the Swiss to the Scandinavian ‘Law Of Jante’, which discourages individuals from considering themselves superior to others. 

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Although she apologized the following day, Riise faces the challenge of dealing with the fact that many of Graham Hansen’s teammates understand and empathize with her, even if they do not necessarily agree with her choice to voice her grievances publicly.

“Of course, you are disappointed not to be starting a game at the World Cup. It’s only natural that she and I would feel that way,” midfielder Ingrid Syrstad Engen, who was also dropped for the match, told reporters on Thursday.

“I don’t know if I was surprised by the reaction (of Graham Hansen), I understand that you can be disappointed in such a situation… Caro has said that it shouldn’t have come out in the way it did, and that it is also about other things.”

Last month, Graham Hansen and Engen achieved victory in the Champions League with Barcelona. However, Engen faced difficulties as the sole defensive midfielder in their initial 1-0 defeat against New Zealand. On the other hand, Graham Hansen is renowned as one of the top attacking players globally, which makes the decision to exclude her from the team even more perplexing. 

Notably, Norway’s previous team motto of ‘sterkere sammen’ (‘stronger together’) is noticeably absent in this World Cup, where individual brilliance is just as important as strong team dynamics. Coach Riise has expressed forgiveness towards Graham Hansen for her outburst, but it seems that there is still progress to be made in resolving the situation.

“We have worked through it and we will continue to talk together, we haven’t had much time,” Riise told reporters on Wednesday following the player’s apology.

“We are always open and receptive to an apology. She has given that and she will give the same to the players. It is accepted,” Riise added.

In some way or another, it seems that a lot of the players are supporting the winger.

“Obviously one would prefer that this didn’t come out at all but once it did I feel we have solved it in a good way,” fellow winger Julie Blakstad said.

“It’s great of her (Graham Hansen) to do that (apologise), I think everyone in the group appreciates it.”

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