Musovic mentality key vs. USWNT and in Sweden’s World Cup run


SYDNEY — Sweden goalkeeper Zecira Musovic caught the eye of goalkeepers and soccer lovers the world over with in the 2023 Women’s World Cup round-of-16 win over the United States.

Her 11 saves throughout 120 minutes helped knock one of many favourites out of the World Cup, however heading into this match, there have been no ensures Musovic was even going to be Sweden’s No. 1 alternative between the posts. It’s been a working theme by her profession; she’s at all times needed to struggle for the jersey. But she’s by no means overlooked her ambition to develop into the very best in her place.

– Women’s World Cup: Landing web page | Bracket | Schedule | News

In a 2019 interview with Bosnian newspaper Dnevni Avaz, she outlined her quest. “Now my goal is to be the first goalkeeper of the national team. I want to win a gold medal in a big tournament, like the Olympics or the World Cup. Also, I want to be the best goalkeeper in the world.”

Her laser deal with that objective, and willingness to work on each side of her sport, has been key to her latest success.

“I think it’s been a long journey to reach that point where I can actually have those days,” the 27-year-old mentioned on Wednesday. “But also off the pitch, the mental side has been a huge part of my game and, being able to do that performance, it’s yeah, it’s been a long journey that required a lot of hard work and the determination and patience.”

Musovic was born in Sweden to folks who left Serbia throughout the Yugoslav Wars, and has three siblings. On the morning of the USWNT sport, she phoned her mom for some last-minute recommendation.

“She had a good feeling,” Musovic mentioned. “She believed in us as a group and had some good loving words from her. And then I was ready to go.”

Musovic grew up loving desk tennis, however the extra she kicked a ball round, the extra her ardour shifted to soccer. She began her profession with Stattena IF, however joined FC Malmo in 2012 — the group merged with FC Rosengard in October 2013, taking their title. It was there, that {the teenager} began to impress.

Sweden legend Therese Sjogran, who performed for the facet from 2001 to 2015 and is now their sporting director, remembers the younger Musovic.

“She’s shown such patience, and when she got the chance, she delivered. When she joined, I played in the same team as her when she was young,” Sjogran tells ESPN. “She came to us when she was 16, and then I was still playing, but she’s always had that fighting spirit.

“The primary factor is that she believes in herself by all of the ups and downs. She at all times had a powerful mentality, and that is what taken her to the place she is now. When she was with us, she was younger, so it takes time for a goalkeeper to be their greatest. But for her, I believe the, her primary factor is her is that she’s believed she’ll be No. 1 no matter the place she’s at.”

Musovic started working with goalkeeping coach Kenneth Mattsson at FC Rosengard in 2017, and he remembers her drive and focus.

“I believe certainly one of certainly one of her strengths, like many in the elite sport, is the best way she improves in the small particulars over time and in completely different areas,” Mattsson tells ESPN. “She’s excellent at objective setting, asking herself ‘the place am I?’ and ‘the place do I need to go?’

“She’s not afraid to ask for help, but she puts in the effort. She’d be there first on the pitch and many times last off the pitch as she’s practicing goal kicks, passes and stuff like that. Over time, she gets the rewards.”

Away from the on-field coaching, Musovic labored on the psychological facet of her sport. “I do a lot of visualising and mental training, brain training,” she mentioned on Wednesday. “So a lot of hours of extra work that I think you don’t realise if you’re not in this body.”

That psychological power has been a continuing reference level all through her profession. She’s by no means had it simple, however has in some way received out in opposition to the percentages over extra skilled goalkeepers. When she joined FC Rosengard, she had Iceland No. 1 Þóra Björg Helgadóttir in entrance of her, then Germany’s Kathrin Langert, then Canada legend Erin McLeod. Each time she managed to win the No.1 jersey.

“It’s always been a competition for her, but she has the head and mind for it,” Sjogran says. Mattsson provides: “You learn a lot in those years. I remember talking to her and she said to me that goalkeeper is not just about saving balls, you also have to get to know yourself. And she learnt to handle the situation with the competition.”

In February 2017, FC Rosengard confronted Chelsea in a pleasant at Carshalton Athletic. It proved to be a serendipitous second, as she saved a penalty and caught the attention of Chelsea’s recruitment workers in the method. Manager Emma Hayes and her workers monitored her and in December 2020, Musovic made the transfer to the Women’s Super League champions.

In London, she had Germany goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger forward of her in the pecking order and even forward of this World Cup, simply as she was getting extra first-team soccer at Chelsea in the latter half of final season, Chelsea went and signed England goalkeeper Hannah Hampton.

“I mean, Chelsea will be watching her here and seeing how she’s performing against the world’s No. 1,” Sjogran says. “That’s why I think she’s staying also in Chelsea because she believes that she will, she will be the No. 1.”

Ahead of this World Cup, one of many primary query marks round Sweden’s group choice hovered over the goalkeeper. Manager Peter Gerhardsson was requested about whether or not he’d go for Jennifer Falk or Musovic in just about each information convention he attended, however when Sweden lined up in opposition to South Africa on July 23, it was Musovic between the posts.

She began as Sweden picked up a gap 2-1 win, then stored a clear sheet in the 5-0 demolition of Italy. She was benched for Falk in the 2-0 victory over Argentina on the finish of the group stage, however returned to play an enormous half (with these 11 saves) in the historic 5-4 win over the USWNT on penalties in the spherical of 16.

“To watch her and do that, that performance? That is what you wish from every goalkeeper you work with,” Mattsson says. “It was such a great, great game. She made great saves, but kept that level throughout and stayed stable. That’s where I’ve seen improvement her, that ability to stay at that level for 120 minutes. Sometimes in these performances, you can see a goalkeeper getting away with it — a little lucky. But that wasn’t the case at all with her. She was outstanding throughout.”

Her match-winning efficiency in opposition to the U.S. remains to be the speak of the Sweden camp days afterward. “I mean, she had an amazing game,” Sweden striker Sofia Jakobsson mentioned. “She was the star out there. I know Zecira and she’s an amazing goalkeeper and is playing in one of the best clubs in the world in Chelsea. So for me it was not a surprise. I was just waiting for her time to shine and she did that for us, and hopefully she can keep that level in the next few games.”

Musovic admitted that she struggled to sleep after the match as she replayed these saves, and clutched on to the sensation of vindication in her personal potential. “I just wanted to win the game,” she mentioned. “I was so determined that I wanted to win the game. I wanted to give my everything to my teammates so they can go forward and score.

“The first evening after the sport I did not get a lot sleep, loads occurred on the identical time. Plenty of feelings that had been flying round in my head. But I believe I come from an atmosphere in Chelsea the place we do that on every day foundation, and you need to refocus after each sport.”

Musovic has frequently referenced the impact Chelsea have had on her at this World Cup, and how the club’s winning mentality and drive for excellence has helped her process. She signed a new contract with Chelsea in February until 2025 but faces a fight for her spot again.

“I actually hope she is going to get to play extra for Chelsea, as a result of in any other case I believe she ought to transfer as a result of she must play constantly week after week,” Sjogran says. “They have good goalkeepers at Chelsea, so in the event that they consider in her and put her as No. 1, then [Musovic] ought to keep. Otherwise, I believe she ought to transfer. But proper now, I’m principally blissful for her and she saved Sweden. I’m delighted she lastly took the No. 1 spot and that she’ll now maintain it.”

Before Musovic thinks about her club future, she will face the tough test of Japan in Friday’s quarterfinal in Auckland. Sweden’s opponents have looked like the best team at this tournament so far, but the goalkeeper is already visualising the moments where she’ll be called upon, with Japan possessing a fine attack able to work the ball into the box and create goal-scoring opportunities, or test her with efforts from range.

Musovic is ready and unwavering in her self-belief.

“I believe you need to be extraordinarily targeted and by no means change off,” she said. “We belief one another, and then hopefully we are able to cease their photographs. They have actually good particular person gamers with actually good qualities, not least the ending half. So it will be powerful, however nothing is not possible.

I’m an optimist, you understand. I dream large and that is a type of goals.”

Additional reporting by Caitlin Murray.


Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button