Sweden thrashed in soccer qualifier
A record poor performance. That was the harsh judgement by one of Swedish Radio's commentators following Sweden's 4 - 1 defeat at the hands of the Netherlands in Tuesday's European Football Championships qualifier in Amsterdam.
Despite having stars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Anders Svensson in the Swedish line-up, there was nothing the Swedes could do as the Dutch scored after just four minutes into the game. The Netherlands' second goal was thanks to a beginner's mistake by Swede Behrang Safari, who gave the ball to the Dutch after a throw in, just before half-time.
Once the 90 minutes were up, the Swedes were down 4 - 1, one of their worst qualifying defeats ever, since their 5 - nil beating at the hands of Germany 73 years ago.
Swedish team captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic was unimpressed by the team's performance in post-match interviews.
"It wasn't good at all, we lost 4 - 1", he told Swedish Radio's Sports Department. "Letting in a goal so early meant we had the odds against us, and every time we started to fight back they scored again. We made too many mistakes as well, there was nothing positive at all", he said. "We just have to try to forget this match as soon as possible and look ahead to the next game".
Sweden has a while to prepare ahead of the return match against the Dutch in the European qualifiers, which is a year away.
Speaking to news agency TT, new Swedish football manager Erik Hamrén blamed nerves for the poor performance, saying he was surprised the team reacted the way they did in the first half of the match, "It's something we have to work on", he says. Hamrén only took over the Swedish team recently, after the squad failed to reach the World Cup finals in South Africa. He had had a good start too, winning the first six matches, until the winning streak was ended rather abruptly by the Netherlands.
Dutch player Jaan Huntelaar scored two goals in the game, and said it was a good night for the his team.
Reactions to the result here have been stunned, tabloid Expressen called the game a fiasco, pointing an accusing finger at the Swedish defence. Rival paper Aftonbladet admitted that the Dutch players were quite simply better, and warned that the Swedish team will have to analyse the game properly and to get to know their own weaknesses and learn how to master them.
Questions are now being raised whether Sweden will even qualify for the European Football Championship finals due to be held in Poland and the Ukraine in 2012. After the loss to the Dutch they can already probably say goodbye to any chances of winning their group, commentators say, the best they can hope for now is to come second in their qualifying group, and to get through via the play-offs. Sweden is currently in third place in their group, behind the Netherlands and Hungary. The next match is against Moldova in March.