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EURO 2016

Sweden handed Russian test in Euro 2016 draw

Sweden will have to contend with Russia and Austria if they are reach the Euro 2016 tournament after the draw for the qualifying rounds for the finals was made on Sunday.

Sweden handed Russian test in Euro 2016 draw
Erik Hamrén's side were drawn in Group G along with Russia, Austria, Montenegro, Moldova and Liechtenstein. Sweden will be familiar with Russia after meeting them in the group stage at Euro 2008 while they also have previous with Austria, having faced them twice in qualifiers for World Cup 2014.
 
The Swedes have qualified for the last four European Championship finals but have only got beyond the group stage once, back in 2004. Sweden, known as the Blågult (blue-yellow), reached the semi finals of Euro 92 when it was held on home turf.
 
The top two teams in each group will qualify for the finals in France along with the best third-placed side while the remaining eight third-placed teams will play off in November 2015 for the final four berths.
 
The first qualifiers will be played on September 7 and the campaign will see matches spread over six days, from Thursday to Tuesday, during every international break in a format that UEFA have championed as the 'Week of Football.' 
 
As for the tournament itself, it will run from June 10 to July 10, 2016 as has been expanded to 24 teams for the first time in its history.  

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FOOTBALL

Why this Swede is now a legend in Iceland

Iceland may have been eliminated from Euro 2016 after a 5-2 defeat to France, but their departing Swedish coach will still go down as a legend in the country for his feats.

Why this Swede is now a legend in Iceland
Iceland's Swedish manager Lars Lagerbäck. Photo: Ciaran Fahey/AP/TT

Lars Lagerbäck's final act as Iceland manager was to mastermind an incredible run to the last eight at the Euros from the tournament’s least-fancied team. And midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson says his boss will always be remembered for what he has done for Icelandic football.

“He is one of the guys that took us to France and the quarter-finals. He will be a legend in Icelandic football history,” the Swansea player told AFP.

“He helped us get to the finals and achieve some of our dreams, so it is very sad that he is leaving and I’m sure we’ll be in contact for the rest of our lives.”

Lagerbäck’s time with Iceland in France was his seventh major finals, having led his native Sweden to five and Nigeria at the 2010 World Cup. He believes the future for Iceland can be bright, even without his expertise.

“Hopefully the FA in Iceland and clubs can take this in, and perhaps use the income from this tournament and put it into a project to help develop young players, I think the future is pretty good,” the manager said.

“If you look upon the whole tournament, as a newcomer, to reach the quarter-finals has been absolutely fantastic.”

The big challenge for the island nation is to replace him. Lagerbäck will now hand over the reins to co-coach and part-time dentist Hemir Hallgrimsson.

“It’s been a fantastic journey these last four-and-a-half years. All the support I’ve got from everywhere I’ve been in Iceland and around the game has been absolutely fantastic,” the Swede said.

“It’s something really, really extra this tournament with all the fans coming here, and what he heard from back home and all the interest and positivity.”

Taking Iceland deep into the knockout stage of their first major finals has made Lagerbäck a coach in demand, with rumours of an offer from England even touted in the British press.

And while the Swede had previously suggested he may retire after Euro 2016, he now appears to be less certain.

“I’m not closing any doors. Right now I can’t think of a 100 percent coaching job, but if someone came with something interesting, of course I would listen,” he told Swedish broadcaster Viasat.