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Thoughts on the deceased player – pure feelings: “I hope she is proud of her teammates.”

What a thrill: the Swiss qualify for the European Championship 2022 after a penalty shootout. Coach Nielsen feels emotional after that – he remembers the tragedy at the start of the qualifiers.

Complete comfort: Lia Wälti and Nils Nielsen are happy to qualify for EM.

Complete comfort: Lia Wälti and Nils Nielsen are happy to qualify for EM.

Photo: Alessandro Della Valle (Keystone)

Gail Talman still talks, explaining what happened in her head during the penalty shootout, and how nervous she was. But Niels Nielsen doesn’t seem to notice it at all. The Swiss coach sits on the edge of the podium in the media room at the Thon Stockhorn Arena, and Media Director Dominic Earp reminds him that he can also feel comfortable in a chair. But Nielsen is in his own world. Tears in his eyes, and he appears exhausted. And this is not even because of the horrific victory of nerves.

No, that qualification for the 2022 European Championship in England has a completely different meaning to him. The Dane remembers the start of the campaign. “Terrible start,” as he put it. Of course, it’s not all about the results. Nielsen means the sudden death of the national player Floriana Ismaili. The 24-year-old died on June 29, 2019 after being in a swimming accident in Lake Como. Nielsen remembers what he swore shortly after the tragic news: to do everything to qualify for this EM. Or as he put it:A small statement to someone, mein another meaning From above on usfromHave looked.»

Wälti finally got it right

To make that statement, it took a lot of luck – and the goalkeeper. Gail Talman saved two penalties, and the crossbar assisted in the decisive shot. “He was the same shooter who scored in the first leg.” The 35-year-old says, “She was probably more nervous than me today.” She herself became tense, especially at first, when, with Malin Gott and Kumba Sue, the first two Swiss women failed from this. the point.

Nielsen is proud that a 20-year-old player scored a very important first penalty in this very important match. “I did it very well,” he says. Of course, he did not mean the shot of the Czech goalkeeper Barbora Fotikova It was liquidated. It is remarkable that such a young player would like to take such a responsibility, and Nielsen sees it as a wonderful thing. Seven players volunteered. And that’s in a team that until a few hours ago still had a reputation for not being able to handle pressure. When this fell, the captain said to which, “I’m totally at the end.”

The decisive moment: Switzerland qualifies for the 2022 European Championship after a penalty shootout.

Video: SRF

But with a goal by 22-year-old Alisha Lehmann and record goal scorer Anna Maria Kronujorsevic with a perfect penalty kick, Switzerland is again in a big event after the World Cup absence. In a moment of extreme relief, Nielsen can’t get the traumatic experience of summer 2019 out of his head. The fact that his team was able to respond after a deficit in the home and away match and in the penalty shootout shows that his players “really did everything they could” to go to the European Championship. His eyes water again, his shoulders droop slightly, the corners of his mouth pointing down. He appears sad and happy at the same time when he says, “I hope she is proud of her teammates.”