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Victory more important than patriotism for Eriksson

AFP · 19 Jun 2006, 18:57

Published: 19 Jun 2006 18:57 GMT+02:00

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England manager Eriksson said his team would be told to concentrate on beating Sweden before they started thinking about the last 16.

With six points from their opening two games, England have already qualified for the second round and only need a draw to be sure of winning Group B.

Topping the group however could see them paired with the Germans if the host nation fails to beat Ecuador in their final Group A match earlier Tuesday.

Eriksson insists however that it will not be a factor.

"All I want to do is win the group," Eriksson said.

"Of course we will try to win but winning the group is the best because it may not be easier but you have more rest days between the matches which is very important. To win the group is always the best no matter what happens in the other group. Two years in Portugal we didn't do it, four years ago in Japan we didn't do it. So let's hope this time we can."

England will be told the result of Germany's match with Ecuador but will not watch the game, Eriksson said.

"We will not watch it. We'll hear the result before we kick off but that's it," he added.

Eriksson is expected to rest two of the three England players who have picked up yellow cards in opening wins over Paraguay and Trinidad-Tobago, with striker Peter Crouch and midfielder Steven Gerrard benched.

Owen Hargreaves is tipped to form the central midfield partnership with Frank Lampard in Gerrard's absence.

"I will rest one or two players because of yellow cards not because they are physically tired," Eriksson said.

"If I had to win the group to stay in the tournament it would have been different. We are already through so I can do this. But it will be a competitive match tomorrow."

Eriksson has not beaten Sweden in three attempts since taking over in 2001, part of an English winless streak against the Scandinavians that stretches back to 1968. There is no question of divided loyalties on Eriksson's part.

Story continues below…

"Of course I'm a Swede but I left Sweden in 1982, so it's really a long, long time," he said.

"I really don't think about it because when you are a coach or a manager of a football team you just want to beat any team which is on the other side."

Eriksson said Sweden's familiarity with English domestic football through regular television coverage over the years could explain their excellent record against England.

"I was brought up with English football as much as I was brought up with Swedish football," Eriksson said. "We saw good English football ever since I was very, very young every Saturday afternoon. We loved English football."

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