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RUSSIA

Sweden claims bandy world title

Sweden claimed its ninth bandy world championship on Sunday, overpowering Russia 6-1 in a come from behind victory before more than 7,500 fans at the ABB arena in Västerås in central Sweden.

Sweden claims bandy world title

The victory was especially sweet for retiring Swedish coach Anders Jakobsson and 38-year-old veteran forward Marcus Bergwall.

For Jakobsson, who took over as the team’s coach in 2005 following Sweden’s last bandy world title, the 2009 championship broke a streak of frustrating second place finishes.

“It’s such a relief. For me, this is absolutely huge,” Jakobsson told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

“I wouldn’t have died even if we had lost again. We’ve been close several times, but maybe we needed this time to become good enough that we could defeat a Russian team which is so unbelievably good.”

Considered a niche winter sport in most parts of the world, bandy is popular in Scandinavia and many countries of the former Soviet Union.

The sport, sometimes referred to as “field hockey on ice”, is played on a sheet of ice roughly the size of a football pitch and features a small ball rather than a puck. Each team has eleven players on the ice at a time, include a goalkeeper, who is the only player allowed to intentionally touch the ball with his head, hands, or arms.

Players advance the ball by passing to one another or by dribbling the ball forward as they skate towards the opposing net, looking for an opportunity to score a goal by shooting the ball past the goalkeeper.

In last year’s bandy world championships, held in Moscow, the Russian team defeated Sweden 6-1 to claim its 14th title, continuing the country’s long dominance of the sport, which has held a world championship tournament since 1957.

But this year, Sweden took advantage of the home ice advantage to turn the tables on the Russians.

Early on, however, there were fears of a repeat Russian victory when at the 25 minute mark, Misja Svesjnikov gathered a loose ball and fired a shot past Sweden’s netminder.

But the veteran Bergwall, playing in his ninth world championship tournament, struck back four minutes later, bringing the Swedes back equal with the Russians.

Sweden’s assault on the Russian net continued in the second half, as the home team poured in five more goals, including a second by Bergwall, in the match’s final 25 minutes.

“I’ve been waiting for this match the whole year. What a bonus it ended up being,” a jubilant Bergwall said at a post-match press conference.

In celebrating the victory, Bergwall also announced his retirement from professional bandy.

“It doesn’t get any better than this. It’s a perfect end,” he told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

On it’s way to the gold, Sweden posted victories against Finland, Kazakhstan, Norway, and Belarus in qualifying matches, as well as a 2-2 tie with Russia.

Sweden went on to defeat Kazakhstan 8-3 in the tournament semifinals, setting up the much anticipated revenge opportunity against Russia in the final.

MILITARY

Sweden steps up Baltic defence in ‘signal’ to Russia

Sweden's defence minister has said his country is carrying out military exercises in the Baltic Sea to 'send a signal' to countries including Russia.

Sweden steps up Baltic defence in 'signal' to Russia
Swedish troops on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland. Photo: Joel Thungren/Försvarsmakten/TT

The so-called “high readiness action” means the Swedish army, navy and air force are currently more visible in the southeastern and southern Baltic Sea and on the island of Gotland.

No details have been disclosed about the number of troops involved in the action.

Sweden is “sending a signal both to our Western partners and to the Russian side that we are prepared to defend Sweden's sovereignty,” Hultqvist told news agency TT.


Ground troops on Gotland. Photo: Bezhav Mahmoud/Försvarsmakten/TT

“There is currently extensive military activity in the Baltic Sea, conducted by Russian as well as Western players, on a scale the likes of which have not been seen since the Cold War,” the Swedish Armed Forces' Commander of Joint Operations, Jan Thörnqvist, said in a statement.

“The exercise activities are more complex and have arisen more rapidly than before. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic has caused global anxiety and uncertainty. Over all, the situation is more unstable and more difficult to predict,” Thörnqvist said.


A Visby-class corvette and two Jas Gripen jets in the air. Photo: Antonia Sehlstedt/Försvarsmakten/TT

Hultqvist said Sweden was also monitoring developments in Belarus “very closely”.

Non-Nato member Sweden, which has not been to war in two centuries and which slashed military spending at the end of the Cold War, reopened a garrison on Gotland in January 2018 amid concerns about Russian intentions in Europe and the Baltic.

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