STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - - Sweden captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic has dismissed talk of his nation’s World Cup playoff with Portugal in Lisbon on Friday being just a contest between him and Cristiano Ronaldo.
“I see two different players, two players who do things fantastically well and represent their countries in the best possible way,” Ibrahimovic told reporters on Wednesday.
“One shouldn’t focus on just two players - it’s Sweden against Portugal and I think the collectives are the most important.”
Ibrahimovic said that at 32 he was playing better than ever, adding: “I‘m developing all the time. For that, you have to train hard, be mentally strong and have the experience I have after playing with such fantastic teams and players. I hope it can continue.”
He also dismissed suggestions that Ronaldo tended to go down easily in the penalty area and was asked why he didn’t tend to do the same.
”I don’t know anything about any diving. I don’t know how I can answer. Why I don’t dive? I try to play my game, create difficult situations for opponenets and better ones for my team mates.
“I don’t think about diving. I don’t think he (Ronaldo) does either.”
The return leg is on November 19 at Stockholm’s Friends Arena where the striker has scored a handful of spectacular goals for Sweden.
Ibrahimovic later said he was not worried about who wins FIFA’s World Player of the Year award, the Ballon d‘Or.
“It feels good (to be nominated), but the most important thing is what I believe and think about myself,” he said.
Reporting by Philip O'Connor, Editing by Tony Goodson