Just days after being named head coach of Austrian women’s football, Emma Raducanu lost out to a qualifier in her debut match on Saturday, when she dropped the loss to Sweden as four strikers struggled to find the net.
Raducanu inherited a roster with a host of big-name players including former FIFA Player of the Year Marta, who tallied 50 goals for her country in 108 appearances. But trouble was immediately evident in her debut game as former Dutch international Ada Hegerberg’s OT goal gave Sweden a 1-0 win.
“From the get-go, we were not in a good place, we did not really have any chances,” Raducanu said after the match. “We need to score in training if we want to get the team back to being a successful team. It’s not the best game I would have wanted.”
Marta voiced her disappointment on Instagram Sunday, writing: “I wanted to congratulate you Emma, for a wonderful match you gave. I know you can do better. I’m completely honest, very proud of you. I’m proud of your team! I have only one expectation and that is that you use your experience in order to build something bigger.”
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Since departing the Frankfurt club by mutual consent in August, Raducanu has been training with the squad as they prepare for the 2018 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. With a lot of her coaching group still recovering from long international breaks and dealing with conflicts with club coaches, Raducanu’s first match also ended with controversy.
Midfielder Linda Hansen, who was critical of the team’s physical play in training, was removed from the starting lineup as a precaution. Following the match, Hansen said: “I think it’s a shame not to have come here knowing you were already ruled out of this match because of previous problems.”
Raducanu said she was understanding for Hansen’s concerns, adding that she hoped the two would remain close friends in the future.
“We had communication on certain issues which made me understand what the concerns were, and I will try to make sure it does not happen again. There are no hard feelings, it’s all water under the bridge,” Raducanu said.
With her win over Sweden, Swede Enelle Jepkosgei took home the Player of the Match award. It was Jepkosgei’s first victory of the game, and it assured Sweden’s qualification for the World Cup.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.