Zlatan and I can take the pressure - Sweden coach Hamren

Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:03am EST
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By Philip O'Connor

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden coach Erik Hamren said he and captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic were coping well with the pressure of knowing they must overturn a 1-0 deficit in Tuesday's World Cup playoff second leg against Portugal.

It is likely to be the 32-year-old Ibrahimovic's last chance of making it to the finals and with Hamren's contract running out at the end of the year, the coach knows defeat will spell the end of his tenure.

"It's happened to me a few times before as a club coach, when you know that if we lose a game there's not much left of the job," Hamren told reporters on Monday.

"But I'm not thinking about that one bit. My focus is on succeeding and if we do succeed we don't need to discuss it."

Asked if it was possible to heap too much pressure on Paris St Germain striker Ibrahimovic trumping Portugal ace Cristiano Ronaldo, Hamren said his player could handle it.

"He's been at this level for many, many years and for us it's not Ronaldo v Zlatan it's Portugal v Sweden," the coach explained.

Hamren said Sweden would have to attack more than they did in the first leg on Friday, a match decided by a brave diving header from Ronaldo, but also show a measure of caution.

"We need to score, that's for sure," the coach added. "They can play more for the result, they have an advantage in that.   Continued...

Paris St-Germain's Zlatan Ibrahimovic reacts during their Champions League soccer match against Anderlecht at the Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris November 5, 2013. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes