Euro 2012: Erik Hamren has us on the right track, says Ibrahimovic

Sweden are set fair for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, despite exiting Euro 2012 at the group stage, their inspirational captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic said.

Updated: June 20, 2012 17:54 IST
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Kiev, Ukraine: Sweden are set fair for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, despite exiting Euro 2012 at the group stage, their inspirational captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic said.

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The 30-year-old striker's belief is based on their impressive 2-0 win over France -- their first victory over the French since October 1969 -- in their final Group D match here Tuesday.

Ibrahimovic, who scored a stunning goal to put them 1-0 up, credits coach Erik Hamren with putting together a strategy that is enthusing the players and giving them great hope for the future.

"This is a good launching pad for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers," said Ibrahimovic, who took his total to six goals in major finals.

"I don't know if the French were afraid but they played the match as if they were.

"As for us we are going to try and retain this spirit. Maybe we weren't that lucky against England? Whatever... At the moment we are playing well.

"We opened the scoring in two of the three matches. We are showing a real desire in how we are playing. We have learnt a lot of things under the coach.

"The one thing lacking in our game with Ukraine (a 2-1 defeat after leading 1-0 through an Ibrahimovic goal) was perhaps determination."

Ibrahimovic had an outstanding tournament -- save failing to mark Andrei Shevchenko properly allowing the Ukrainian icon to score the second of his goals -- perhaps laying to rest the notion that he didn't translate his club form onto the international stage.

However, Ibrahimovic was keener to talk about the team than himself, something again which he has been accused of neglecting in the past.

"I feel really good," said the AC Milan star. "This man of the match award reflects not my performance but that of the entire team. We have a really good side, though, we can still improve both in terms of personnel and individually.

"Me, I just give a hand to my team-mates."

Hamren, who took over in 2009 after a successful career in club football in Norway and Denmark, paid a handsome tribute to Ibrahimovic and said he had mixed feelings at the end of their stay in Ukraine.

"I am proud of my players but there is still a little pain," admitted the 54-year-old, who after the Ukraine game had accused some of the players of being cowards for their lack of desire.

"That really hurts this feeling of pain. After the match, there was a feeling of sadness. When you have a good result, you always ask yourself if you could have done something different in the previous games.

"I am happy with the manner in which the players comported themselves while we were here. If we behave as if we are winners, then we will finish by winning. But that takes time.

"Ibrahimovic was outstanding as captain of the squad. It is not age that counts but more your physical condition. There are of course limits but those can be countered by the player's attitude and motivation.

"France came into the game unbeaten in 23 matches, so obviously I am delighted."

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