After impressing in the 1994 and 1998 qualification campaigns, topping groups containing both the Netherlands and England then Hungary, the Norwegians have fallen out of sorts somewhat. While finishing well adrift in the run-in for 2002, a 2-0 aggregate defeat to the Czech Republic saw them miss out in the 2006 play-offs.
Frustration again befell the Scandinavians as they fought for qualification to the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, as a draw with Iceland in their penultimate game meant they dropped two vital points, which would have seen them pip the Republic of Ireland into the final play-off spot.
FIFA World Cup finals history
Having made it to three FIFA World Cup finals, in 1938, 1994 and 1998, the Norwegians have fallen at the hands of Italy each time, handing them all three of their only defeats at the finals.
The first two came in the first rounds of 1938 and 1994, with the latter seeing them harshly miss out on qualification to the knock-out stages on goals scored. In 1998, inspired by cousins Havard and Tore Andre Flo, a win over champions Brazil saw them into the second round for the first time. However a solitary Christian Vieri goal saw the Azzurri send the Scandinavians home broken-hearted again.
The current crop
Having qualified for just one tournament from the past six, Norway have turned back to the man who presided over their golden age in the mid-nineties – Egil Olsen. With a squad full of experience at his disposal, and five players boasting upwards of sixty caps available, there’s no doubt that Olsen will be dealing with a team who have been there and done it before.
The key players
An imposing figure on the field, captain Brede Hangeland has lead his country for three years, forming half of a hugely experienced defensive duo with Roma full-back John Arne Riise. With more than 160 caps and three UEFA club finals between them, they will provide the strong foundations of the side.
Morten Gamst Pedersen has been a consistent figure in the squad for many years, and his adeptness from set-pieces will no doubt see it continue. Be it from corners or free-kicks he has the technique to trouble defences from almost anywhere in the final third.
Coach: Egil Olsen
Best performance in a FIFA competition: Men's Olympic Football Tournament Berlin 1936 (Third place)
Former stars: Henning Berg, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Tore Andre Flo