Football: Hughes: We Know We Aaron for the Toughest of Tests; UEFA EURO 2008 Austria-Switzerland LAWRIE'S BOYS CHASE TOP SPOT: N. IRELAND V SWEDEN, TOMORROW, 7.45 SWEDE SUCCESS WON'T COME EASY

The Mirror (London, England), March 27, 2007 | Go to article overview

Football: Hughes: We Know We Aaron for the Toughest of Tests; UEFA EURO 2008 Austria-Switzerland LAWRIE'S BOYS CHASE TOP SPOT: N. IRELAND V SWEDEN, TOMORROW, 7.45 SWEDE SUCCESS WON'T COME EASY


Byline: Darren FULLERTON

NORTHERN Ireland skipper Aaron Hughes believes victory over Sweden at Windsor Park tomorrow night would rank alongside recent iconic successes against England and Spain.

The Irish will go top of Europe 2008 Group F if they can beat Lars Lagerback's team in south Belfast.

But Hughes moved yesterday to temper the soaring expectation levels with a timely dose of realism.

Sweden, he warned, are ranked 15th in the world - higher than Denmark, Russia and Poland - and remain one of the strongest, most consistent nations in world football.

"We can't get carried away with the hype and expectation ahead of this game," said Hughes.

"We also can't get lured into being complacent.

"It's going to be tough and in my opinion a good result against Sweden would be on a par with the England and Spain games because they are one of the best teams in the world.

"They are always up there at the top of qualifying groups and qualifying for tournaments, so to get a result against them would be like getting a result against Spain and England.

"That's how difficult it is going to be on Wednesday so we know what to expect.

"We know there is a feel-good factor among fans at the moment and we also know we are capable of getting a good result.

"But we won't get anything from this game just because we're on a good roll.

"We have to be fully focused because Sweden are one of the best sides in the world."

Despite Hughes' obvious respect for the Swedes, the Aston Villa defender also insists Sanchez's side are targeting victory tomorrow evening to ensure their aspirations in the group survive into the next qualifier against Liechtenstein at Windsor in August.

"We'll go into Wednesday night looking to win the game," he said.

"We're at home, we're at Windsor Park and we will approach it exactly the same way we approached home games against the likes of Spain, Latvia and England.

"We will play the way that suits us where we try and get the ball into David (Healy) as much as we can.

"If we can do that we can threaten other teams.

"We can upset teams at Windsor and that's what we will be trying to do.

"We also have a lot of away games coming up - difficult trips to the likes of Spain and Sweden - so it's important we pick up points at home.

"If we do that then we will travel to those away games later in the campaign with something to hang onto, something to fight for."

Hughes, who made his international debut against Slovakia under former boss Lawrie McMenemy in 1998, is playing in his fifth major qualifying campaign with Northern Ireland. …

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Football: Hughes: We Know We Aaron for the Toughest of Tests; UEFA EURO 2008 Austria-Switzerland LAWRIE'S BOYS CHASE TOP SPOT: N. IRELAND V SWEDEN, TOMORROW, 7.45 SWEDE SUCCESS WON'T COME EASY
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