Last night in San Siro, Milan, Italy bowed out of the the second leg play-off match for the World Cup with Sweden putting in a spirited defensive display, and leaving the Italian’s unable to even come close to scoring a decisive goal to equalise the tie. The Swedes looked comfortable although pressed to the back of their own half for much of the game, giving the world a master class in defensive grit and shutting down their opponents at every opportunity.
Manchester United striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was in the stands, watching his country qualify for the World Cup in Russia. As the final whistle blew with the scores tied at 0-0, the players and fans were sent into jubilation, whilst the Italian players, especially goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon were reduced to tears, playing his final International match in a career spanning twenty years in between the goal posts for the Azzuri.
It’s true that Sweden had changed their manager and approach since Zlatan Ibrahimovic retired from International football one and a half year ago, back when Sweden was coached by the less than impressive Erik Hamren, who was long thought to be a useless manager by the majority of the Swedish population, after a dismal display in Euro 2016.
Current Swedish manager Janne Andersson, will now be feeling the heat, the temptation, and the possibility of having Zlatan Ibrahimovic come out of retirement to play for the nation in the World Cup. That is, if Zlatan manages a successful comeback for Manchester United in the Premier League this season, after being sidelined for 8 months with a knee injury.
However, immediately after Sweden qualified, Andersson said post-match on the topic of Zlatan, “This is incredible! This player [Ibrahimovic] has just stopped to play with Sweden one year and a half [years] ago and we are still here talking about him”.
Well Janne, naturally it has come to the minds of many people, not only the Swedish people, since if Zlatan plays well for Manchester United, upon his return from injury and is fully fit in this new Swedish side that you have created, then Sweden and Zlatan would have greater chances in the World Cup if he is in fact included in the squad.
However, Janne continued: “Gosh, we need to talk about the great players we have in this team I believe”, which is fair enough, but we hope he has his two cents about him on the topic of Zlatan, whilst obviously he wants the world to recognise the team’s achievement without Zlatan at this stage.
“What I wanted to say was that this was the demonstration that our collective acted like this during the whole length of the play-offs. We have many heroes tonight. I am a bit moved but obviously very happy with the result. When Ibrahimovic was here with us, we played a different style of football”.
He later added, “Considering that he has decided to leave international football, he is a great champion, but we had to adapt and found another style.”
Aside from Janne Andersson’s comments, he has done good job bringing the side up to its maximum capability, unlike Erik Hamren, but it is undeniable and almost unfair not consider the benefit of having a World Class player like Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the Swedish national side in the World Cup in Russia, after him having to play for Erik Hamren previously…
Congratulations to Janne Andersson, the Swedish national team, and to Sweden as a whole, but to disregard Zlatan would be unpatriotic and a big mistake. His illustrious career and devotion to the Swedish nation deserves a recall and return, should he so wish to express it, and show that he is more than capable to once again lead the team in this new Swedish side that is finally ready to compete at a higher level than in previous years.
Hopefully, Janne Andersson will think differently once Zlatan shows his World Class credentials in the Premier League after his return from Manchester United.
Brainstain, over and out!
<Story by The Narrator>
Featured Photo Credit: Reuters India