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SWEDEN

Ibrahimovic returns to Swedish national team

Barcelona star Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to return as captain of the Swedish national team after a nine month absence, the Swedish Football Federation confirmed at lunchtime on Friday.

Ibrahimovic returns to Swedish national team

28-year-old Ibrahimovic joined national team coach Erik Hamrén at a press conference in the Swedbank Stadium in Malmö on Friday to announce his return to the international set up.

“It is an honour to play for the national team,” Ibrahimovic said.

The star striker, who has scored 22 goals in 60 appearance for Sweden, is set to return to lead the side in the qualifying campaign for the 2012 European Championships in the autumn and could feature when Sweden entertain Scotland in a friendly on August 11th.

Ibrahimovic on Friday took the opportunity to explain his decision to rule himself out of international duty after Sweden’s failure to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa with a loss against Denmark last October.

“After the last match when we did not qualify for the World Cup, my motivation disappeared,” he said, adding that his lay off had given him a chance to think things over and spend time with his family.

“The negative thing is that I have missed playing for the national team, missed the Swedish people, to play for them and to wear the national team jersey,” he said.

Ibrahimovic also referred to the appointment of former Rosenborg coach Erik Hamrén as a factor in his decision.

“It feels like he has the same mentality as I do. He has promised me a medal.”

Hamrén returned the compliment at the jovial lunchtime press conference near to where the Malmö-born star began his professional career.

“A motivated Zlatan Ibrahimovic is worth gold for the Swedish national team. In my eyes he is one of the best players in the world.”

Ibrahimovic is set to share the captain’s armband with former Southampton midfielder Anders Svensson, who has led the team in his absence.

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NORWAY

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland

Norway, which has suspended the use of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine until further notice, will send 216,000 doses to Sweden and Iceland at their request, the Norwegian health ministry said Thursday.

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland
Empty vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

“I’m happy that the vaccines we have in stock can be put to use even if the AstraZeneca vaccine has been paused in Norway,” Health Minister Bent Høie said in a statement.

The 216,000 doses, which are currently stored in Norwegian fridges, have to be used before their expiry dates in June and July.

Sweden will receive 200,000 shots and Iceland 16,000 under the expectation they will return the favour at some point. 

“If we do resume the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we will get the doses back as soon as we ask,” Høie said.

Like neighbouring Denmark, Norway suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab on March 11 in order to examine rare but potentially severe side effects, including blood clots.

Among the 134,000 AstraZeneca shots administered in Norway before the suspension, five cases of severe thrombosis, including three fatal ones, had been registered among relatively young people in otherwise good health. One other person died of a brain haemorrhage.

On April 15, Norway’s government ignored a recommendation from the Institute of Public Health to drop the AstraZeneca jab for good, saying it wanted more time to decide.

READ MORE: Norway delays final decision on withdrawal of AstraZeneca vaccine 

The government has therefore set up a committee of Norwegian and international experts tasked with studying all of the risks linked to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which is also suspected of causing blood clots.

Both are both based on adenovirus vector technology. Denmark is the only European country to have dropped the AstraZeneca
vaccine from its vaccination campaign, and said on Tuesday it would “lend” 55,000 doses to the neighbouring German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

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