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England ready to end Sweden jinx

PTI 14 Jun 2012, 17:05:38 IST
Krakow (Poland), Jun 14: England are determined to end their decades-long jinx against Sweden today in a Group D encounter which has assumed must-win status for both sides.

Sweden's opening 2-1 defeat to Ukraine on Monday means that Erik Hamren's team will be eliminated if they lose to England, who have never beaten the Scandinavians in a competitive fixture.

Ukraine's win has complicated matters for England, however, who must beat Sweden in Kiev if they are to avoid the possible daunting scenario of having to beat the co-hosts in their final group game next week to advance.

“We are in a position where we can't lose any more games and hopefully we can win both,” Sweden defender Jonas Olsson said.

“We will focus on Friday first, try to get a good result there. It will be nicer to win both games and not be depending on other results.

Sweden have endured a period of soul-searching following their loss to the Ukrainians, with coach Erik Hamren warning his team would face an early flight home if the performance was repeated against England.

“In the first-half against Ukraine there were only maybe five or six players who answered the call to duty, and that is not good enough and cannot be repeated,” Hamren said.

England by contrast have returned to their southern Poland training base at Krakow in relatively good spirits after their opening 1-1 draw with France.

Whilst England's defensive display against the French failed to win many points for artistic impression, the mood within the English camp is upbeat.

“The Swedes are difficult and I don't think we've beaten them for a long time in a competitive game. We will respect them but, with all respect, it's a game we should win,” was the bullish assessment of captain Steven Gerrard.