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Win fails to help Sweden fulfill World Cup dream

AFP/The Local · 15 Oct 2009, 08:26

Published: 15 Oct 2009 08:26 GMT+02:00

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An improbable draw or win by Malta would have allowed Sweden to hang onto second place in Group A and sneak into the play-off.

Instead, Portugal rescued an unconvincing World Cup 2010 qualifying campaign by securing a play-off place with a 4-0 home victory over Malta.

Sweden’s failure to qualify means that one of Europe's top stars, Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, will not be taking part in the World Cup in South Africa.

"When it's over it's over. It's been a great journey even though the end is bitter," Sweden coach Lars Lagerbäck said after his team failed to qualify.

Ibrahimovic, who scored in each of Barcelona's first five matches this year after leading his previous team Inter Milan to three Serie A crowns, failed to work his magic for the national squad throughout the qualifiers.

Instead, the 28-year-old went goalless at the weekend as Sweden lost 1-0 to Denmark in Group A, reducing their chances of a trip to South Africa to a long shot.

While the striker has dazzled for Barca and Inter Milan -- he was named Italian Player of the Year in 2009 -- he has at times struggled to score for Sweden even though the team has played in five straight major championships: the European championships in 2000, 2004 and 2008 and the World Cup in 2002 and 2006.

Ibrahimovic has scored 22 goals in 61 caps for his country, but failed once again to net a goal at home against the Albanians.

Instead, it was Olympiakos centre-back Olof Mellberg who scored twice for Sweden, with Marcus Berg and Anders Svensson also on target for the hosts, while Hamid Salihi netted a consolation for Albania.

Story continues below…

Denmark's victory over Sweden at the weekend meant they were already assured of qualification as group winners although they rounded off their campaign with a 1-0 defeat to Hungary in Copenhagen.

"It's over now, there's nothing we can do it about it. Sure it feels a bit better that we won today but it is really disappointing to miss the World Cup," said Lagerbäck, who announced at the weekend that he would step down as coach.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:13 October 15, 2009 by BrittInSweden
But look on the bright side, England is through :)
10:34 October 15, 2009 by peropaco
I feel bad for Sweden; the team is so darn bad that you cannot help but feeling sorry for them. They play like robots and are unable to make individual decisions when confronted with the choice. They could be standing alone in front of the goal keeper with a clear option of scoring a goal but would not take the shot because that would be deemed a very selfish behaviour and that's a no, no in Swedish thinking.
11:08 October 15, 2009 by WelshSwede
Oh no, the mighty Zlatan wont be at the tournament. Too be honest, is there any difference, if Sweden had of qualified for the tournament. He would have been non existent, he will prob spend more energy at home flcking through the channels watching the game than he would've have done at the tournament.

Totally over rated and rubbish against decent defenders, especially British teams.
11:40 October 15, 2009 by misssh
How about... get a real sport and harden up football is just so lame as far as I am concerned just to many hollywood´s for me (acting hurt then running of after getting the penalty like nothing has happened)

rugby is a real sport that is actually entertaining to watch unlike 90 percent of the football matches i have watched and always get disappointed when I watch the sport as it never seems to ring my bells

ruffle a few feathers up saying this i would imagen but that is where i stand with it

I am not even American and find American football more entertaining since getting eurosport2
11:42 October 15, 2009 by Beavis
Hopefully the new coach (sven) will leave Zlatan on the bench.Every single touch in the game last night bar none he gave the ball away after a good build up,or totally fluffed the shot.Lagermuppet gave him far too much respect, he can be a good player. It was great to see when he came off the Swedish players trying to score themselves rather than looking to pass to him so he could miss.
13:18 October 15, 2009 by peropaco
Was that guy in the picture giving the nazi salute? Hmmmm ;-D
13:32 October 15, 2009 by stupr
Sweden need to realise that Zlatan is just not that good when he plays for his country. To be honest I think he is over rated as it is, however he does produce some brilliant goals at club level so one can easily argue his ability (and as long as he scores who cares). But when he puts on the yellow strip I have yet to see him live up to his reputation. Last night he was terrible, not one good play.

The sooner the team realises this the sooner they can stop simply trying to launch long balls up field in the slim hope that it wil reach him. Firstly, this has a small chance of working when you have one striker against usualy minimum two defenders, and secondly (and lets be honest here) unless it lands right at his feet and he does not have to do....well anything...he will probably mess it up anyway. Long balls cannot be the basis of the teams tactics!!
13:43 October 15, 2009 by Beavis
" Long balls cannot be the basis of the teams tactics!! " Tell that to Trapatoni..
02:06 October 16, 2009 by DaTraveler
Zlatan is such a talented player, probably top 5 striker in the world but he puts on his C game whenever playing for the NT almost as if he doesn't wanna score.
02:10 October 16, 2009 by justanotherexpat
Zlatan brought back down to earth.


If he's the best you have, then heaven help you........
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