Football: SUPPORT SVEN'S TEAM; That's Sweden of Course, Not the One That Employs him.(Sport)

Sunday Mirror (London, England), May 19, 2002 | Go to article overview
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Football: SUPPORT SVEN'S TEAM; That's Sweden of Course, Not the One That Employs him.(Sport)


Byline: RAY HEPBURN

SCOTS punters are heading for a World Cup betting bonanza if Celtic star Johan Mjallby's predictions are on the ball.

Bookmakers all over the country report that Scottish fans are rushing to back Sweden at 11-4 to beat England in their opening Group F match on June 2.

And after helping Celtic retain the SPL title for the first time in 20 years, Mjallby is convinced that the Swedes can give England's hopes a right bashing.

The towering Celtic centre half will move forward into midfield for his country and, although he acknowledges that the so-called Group of Death is fraught with dangers, believes that Sweden will reach the second stage.

Sven Goran Eriksson's England, second-favourites Argentina and Nigeria will provide formidable opposition, but Mjallby insisted: "We know England and Argentina will be the favourites to go forward from our group, but we believe that we can cause an upset.

"And I know that a lot of Scottish supporters are hoping that we will hurt England's chances in the opening game.

"Both England and Argentina have more quality players in depth than we have in the Swedish side, but we have a very strong team and a great spirit.

"And, of course, we have a very good record against England although we are aware that will not mean a lot when it gets down to the game itself.

"Argentina will be more at home in the climate than the European sides, but I think the group will be very tight and I'm confident we can win it.

Not surprisingly Mjallby, 31, will be looking to Celtic team-mate Henrik Larsson for the goals that would fire Sweden through into the next stage.

The Parkhead hitman had a quieter than normal season as Celtic sprinted to a second successive title - but for Larsson ''quieter'' means ending up with 39 goals, instead of the 53 he blasted during Celtic's treble triumph.

Mjallby said: "We all know what Henrik can do in the domestic game and clearly he will be a vital player in the World Cup.

"There has always been a debate over whether he could produce the same goal rate in another country, but he has scored regularly for Sweden and surely international goals speak for themselves.

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