Norway winger Caroline Graham Hansen lashed out at the decision to start her on the bench in her side’s scoreless draw with Switzerland at the Women’s World Cup on Tuesday, which leaves its hopes of progressing to the last 16 hanging by a thread.
The 28-year-old was brought on as a second-half substitute but she could not hide her frustration after the game.
“It’s tough, I don’t know what I can say. There’s not much I can say, I feel like I’m standing here with my hands tied,” she said in a post-game TV interview.
“I feel I have been stepped on for a whole year - everyone says all the time that we have to stand together as a team and as a nation, but I feel I’ve been on the receiving end (of a raw deal),” Graham Hansen added.
The appointment of Hege Riise as Norway coach in August last year was followed by an announcement that Graham Hansen was stepping away from the national team to concentrate on her health, but she returned to the fold ahead of the World Cup.
Her comeback proved to be far from triumphant, and after a poor showing by Norway in its defeat to co-host New Zealand in its opening game Graham Hansen was dropped, along with Barcelona teammate Ingrid Syrstad Engen and Manchester City’s Julie Blakstad.
“Nothing comes for free in life, but I thought I had earned a certain amount of respect, but maybe that wasn’t the case,” Graham Hansen said.
When asked about the decision to bench Graham Hansen, who won the Champions League with Barcelona last month, coach Riise said she had no regrets.
“Caroline is entitled to be frustrated and to express an opinion, but since I arrived in this position I have always said the team is the most important thing,” Riise told reporters.
“All players want to start matches. I reached the decision in the best interest of my team and I defend my decision today.”
Norway faces Philippines in its final Group A game on Sunday, with New Zealand and Switzerland kicking off simultaneously.
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