This week Sweden will aim to continue its seemingly relentless march towards next year’s European Championships. But Wednesday’s match against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park in Belfast is a potential stumbling block.
After years spent in the football wilderness, Lawrie Sanchez’s team are performing well in qualifying. Having already beaten Spain, they will be hoping to claim Sweden as their latest scalp.
The Swedes top the qualifying group with 12 points from their four opening games. Northern Ireland are second, with ten points from five games, followed by Denmark and Spain.
The game marks the international return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has managed to resolve his differences with coach Lars Lagerbäck.
Zlatan’s relationship with the Swedish press is as tempestuous as ever however: the Inter Milan striker answered most of the questions at the team’s first press conference with the words “absolutely not”, including an inquiry as to whether having a child had changed his life.
Having taken a one game lead in the semi-final of Elitserien, favourites Färjestad suddenly find themselves in a precarious position. Tempers were frayed at the end of Sunday’s match when Linköping secured a surprise 2-1 lead in the best of seven series.
HV71 pulled themselves back into their semi-final with a victory away to MODO in Örnsköldsvik. The Jönköping side went into the game knowing that defeat would leave them just one game away from an early exit. Despite falling behind to an early goal, HV71 stuck at the task and Jukka Voutilainen slotted home the winner five minutes from time. MODO lead 2-1 going into the fourth match on Tuesday.
Anna Lindberg just missed out on bronze medals at both the one metre and three metre levels at the World Swimming Championships in Melbourne. While this was a disappointment, her fifth place finish with Martina Andrén in the three metre synchronized diving event exceeded everybody’s expectations.
The pair were just a few points away from automatic qualification to the Beijing Olympics. Not bad for a team that was only decided at the last minute.
“Absolutely unbelievable. Now we have to allow them the chance to qualify for the Olympics,” national coach Ulrika Knape-Lindberg told news agency TT.