Frida Maanum may have just capped off her breakout season in north London but just over the horizon, our magnificent number 12 has another chance to weave her midfield magic.
After collecting a host of accolades, including the Goal of the Tournament in the UEFA Women’s Champions League and our Arsenal Women’s Supporters Club Player of the Season, Maanum’s focus turns to her international game. She’s swapping the red of Arsenal for the red of Norway as she prepares for the football’s biggest stage in Australia and New Zealand: the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
On July 20, Maanum and her fellow Norwegians have the honour of opening the tournament as they take on co-hosts New Zealand in Auckland.
“I’m really excited to get going for the World Cup!” said Maanum. “It's something I’ve been looking forward to for so long now and it's finally here. I think we all feel that!”
Maanum made the most of June’s respite with some well-deserved rest back in Norway with friends and family, before joining up with her compatriots at Norway’s training camp.
But before she headed off for summer break, our midfielder made it clear where her heart lies by signing a new contract with the club.
"I love Arsenal. I feel like this is the place where I can develop and learn from the players around me and take steps both on and off the pitch," she said, after putting pen to paper.
"This was the right decision for me. I've enjoyed my time here for two years and I can't wait to stay here longer."
“We all had a good season as a team at Arsenal, but also I've had a good season as an individual player. I feel like I've developed through the whole season and I'm really excited to go into the World Cup with a lot of confidence.”
With the likes of Ada Hegerberg, Caroline Graham Hansen, Guro Reiten and Maren Mjelde in their ranks, the Norwegians are far from lacking in superstar talent. Yet form has somewhat eluded the side of late and their 2-1 win over Portugal in a pre-World Cup friendly is only the second time they’ve recorded a victory in 2023.
Thankfully, the mercurial nature of our last Women’s Super League season may end up being the perfect preparation for a dramatic knockout tournament this summer.
“I learnt so much in a season like this, where there were ups and downs every week, almost throughout the whole season. I think that's important to take into a World Cup.
“We could win the first game, lose the second and then win the third and we're through to the quarterfinals. It will probably feel very up and down in terms of our performances as well. So we can all definitely learn and take a lot from our recent experiences into the tournament.”
Despite having just turned 24 this month, the 2023 World Cup is far from Maanum’s first experience on the world stage, having been called up to Norway’s squad for the 2019 edition in France. She played in all but one of Norway’s matches in the competition, helping them reach the quarter-final stage before being knocked out by England.
As national teams continue to raise the bar on the pitch, the growth in the stands has been astronomical. It's a sea change the players feel deeply, especially at major tournaments.
“I feel like the World Cup in France was a turning point in many ways a turning point, where we saw so many people coming to the games and the crowds were getting bigger. Since then, it's just continued to grow.
“So going to the World Cup now in Australia and New Zealand, seeing what the crowd can give us as well will be amazing.”
See Frida in action with Norway v New Zealand (20 July, 8am GMT), v Switzerland (25 July, 9am GMT), v Philippines (30 July, 8am GMT).
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