WORLD CUP 2018

Sweden spurred by anger, Mexico seek historic win

Sweden coach Janne Andersson reacting to Germany's win during the World Cup Group F football match in Sochi, Russia, on June 23, 2018.
Sweden coach Janne Andersson reacting to Germany's win during the World Cup Group F football match in Sochi, Russia, on June 23, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

EKATERINBURG • Sweden coach Janne Andersson ramped up his verbal attack on Germany yesterday, calling the behaviour of some of their staff in celebrating their last-gasp winner "scornful".

Andersson admitted that his men, who face a do-or-die clash with Mexico today, had suffered "turbulent" times following the dramatic 2-1 defeat by the world champions. He was riled by what he felt were excessive celebrations by the German bench after Toni Kroos hit a 95th-minute winner on Saturday.

Germany have taken action over the incident, suspending two of their staff for provoking the Swedish bench. Media coordinator Uli Voigt and Georg Behlau, head of the backroom staff, will not attend Germany's crunch match against South Korea today.

Adding to the sour atmosphere, Swedish substitute Jimmy Durmaz was subjected to death threats and racial abuse online by Swedish fans blaming the winger for conceding the free kick that led to the winner.

Andersson, still clearly furious about what he previously described as Germany "rubbing it in our faces", said: "If I had not responded I would have been dead inside... Unsportsmanlike behaviour is not OK."

Defender Andreas Granqvist said Sweden aim to take their festering anger and use it to their advantage on the pitch against Mexico.

Mexico top Group F and look most likely to qualify for the last 16, with Germany and Sweden battling for second spot.

"When we heard, the group was annoyed - it is unacceptable," the 33-year-old Granqvist said of the vitriol aimed at Durmaz, born in Sweden to Assyrian parents who emigrated from Turkey. "We have let it go but will come out of it as a group much stronger."

Whether that will be enough to overcome Mexico is another matter. Juan Carlos Osorio's men have won over many fans - including Argentina great Diego Maradona - with their performances in victories over Germany and South Korea and vowed not to play for a draw.

Mexico midfielder Andres Guardado said: "We want to make history and get the three points. The objective of this national team isn't to get out of the group, it's more and, until we achieve it, we won't relax.

"Winning nine points would be historic for us in a World Cup. We're doing things differently and we don't fear anyone.

"If we want to be world champions and go far in this World Cup you have to be able to beat anyone."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2018, with the headline 'Sweden spurred by anger, Mexico seek historic win'. Print Edition | Subscribe