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After dispatching Switzerland, Sweden aims for semifinals


Sweden’s defender Andreas Granqvist (front R) gestures after the team won the Russia 2018 World Cup round of 16 football match between Sweden and Switzerland at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on July 3, 2018.Olga MALTSEVA / AFP

After beating Switzerland 1-0 to qualify for their first quarterfinal of the FIFA World Cup in 24 years, Sweden Coach, Janne Anderson, said yesterday that his team would aim to beat either England or Colombia to qualify for the semifinals of the competition.

Addressing the press after leading Sweden to its first quarterfinals since 1994, a delighted Andersson said his team came into the competition determined to make the best of the Russian atmosphere, which favours his country much more than the previous championships.

Sweden put up another gritty team performance to edge out Switzerland through Emil Forsberg’s deflected shot.Andersson said his team “work for each other on and off the pitch, and I’m incredibly happy that it’s paying off.“We will focus on one thing when we’ve digested this victory, and that’s the game on Saturday. We don’t even know what team we will face yet, but that is going to be the focus of our preparations.”

Sweden is one of the underrated teams in this competition, but pundits, who remembered that they beat Netherlands and Italy in the qualifiers and ensured that Germany did not cross the group stage, know that the Scandinavians mean business.

Andersson is not under any illusion that the journey would get easier, but he also believes in his wards’ abilities. “We know we are a good team, that we’ve earned our successes — we know how we got this far.“We’ve worked this way throughout, we’re continuing the same way, and what other teams and countries think about that is not terribly interesting,” the 55-year-old coach, who has spent most of his career, both as player and coach in his homeland, said.He added: “It’s a surreal feeling, to be standing in St Petersburg on the pitch afterwards and people are calling out my name. That feels strange — during the match I’m very much focused on the game.”

Sweden may have exceeded expectations in Russia but they are not done yet, and Andersson and his squad will now assess the players and their coming opponents before going into battle again.On the quarterfinal match, Andersson describes the stage as the next step to his team’s ambition in the competition. He said, “We are not satisfied with this, and nothing more. We want to win the next match as well — if you start to lower the bar, the level of ambition, that’s not going to make for satisfaction.”

While Andersson is looking forward to what his team could achieve in Russia in the next few days, Switzerland coach, Vladmir Petkovic is ruing his side’s tame performance in a game much was expected of them.He said his team was too slow and lacked the emotion needed to succeed at this level, especially as it is ranked way above their conquerors.

Switzerland is ranked sixth in the world and was tipped to excel owing to the higher quality of stars in their rank.Petkovic lamented that his players did not come to the party when it mattered most.

“We are sorely disappointed, we wanted to do more. Sweden did precisely what they were good at and that was enough to beat us. We should have done things better, but we were not good enough to win this match,” he said.He lamented that despite their superior possession, his team was too predictable to find a way past the massed Swedish defence.“We wanted to play down the wings but we were too slow, our passes were not good. We played out of defence too slowly and we also tried to play diagonal passes, but we were not good enough,” he lamented.

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