This weekend will be the last round of matches before the Allsvenskan takes a summer break for the World Cup. A friend of mine recently remarked that he didn’t know why since he couldn’t think of a single player currently playing for an Allsvenskan club who was likely to play in the World Cup. Obviously Sweden’s failure to qualify has severely lowered the numbers, but with the release of team squads last week, I discovered there will potentially be four Allsvenskan players going to South Africa in a few weeks time. (I say potentially because at this stage these are just preliminary squads.)
Despite struggling this season, AIK have two of these players: Sebastian Eguren of Uruguay and Miran Burgic of Slovenia. American selectors have included Örebro midfielder Alejandro Bedoya. But the player most likely to see some action is IFK Göteborg’s Danish goalkeeper Kim Christensen, easily the best keeper in the Allsvenskan. He is one of four keepers selected for the Danish team and with regular keeper Thomas Sørensen struggling with injuries, Christensen could find himself in the starting eleven.
Those that missed out include Elfsborg keeper Ante Covic, who might have hoped he’d make it into the Australian squad, having been selected in 2006 when playing for Hammarby. In fact he walked out of A-League side Newcastle Jets and signed for Elfsborg in the hope that playing in Europe would improve his chances of being selected. But alas he was overlooked in favour of Fulham’s Mark Schwarzer. Reading’s Adam Federici and Middlesbrough’s Brad Jones. Mjällby’s Craig Henderson might also have had half a chance of being selected for New Zealand, but the injuries that have prevented him from playing for Mjällby have also kept him out of the NZ squad. Malmö FF’s Edward Ofere failed to make the Nigerian team, with the acquisition of a Swedish coach seemingly doing nothing for his chances.
Sweden’s biggest influence on this World Cup will most likely come from the sidelines, with Sven Göran Eriksson coaching the Ivory Coast and Lars Lagerbäck at Nigeria. This means that despite Sweden failing to qualify, there will still be two Swedes coaching in the tournament. This puts Sweden amongst some pretty illustrious company. Only Holland, France, Brazil, Argentina, Italy and Germany, all traditional football superpowers, can claim multiple coaches at this year’s tournament, with only Argentina and Germany claiming three.
Joining Sven at Ivory Coast will be his ever-faithful assistant Tord Grip who has worked with Sven since they first met at Degerfors in the 1970s. He will also be flanked by Benny Lennartsson, who helped turn around Gais’ fortunes when he joined as an assistant coach last summer. Gais’ team Doctor (whose name escapes me) will also be working with the Ivory Coast side. Roland Andersson, who worked as an assistant to Lagerbäck with the Swedish squad, will follow Lars to Nigeria.