Sweden, South Korea need to seize chance with Germany waiting

first_imgMOST READ China population now over 1.4 billion as birthrate falls The opening game is crucial for both teams with defending champion Germany and Mexico, who meet in Moscow on Sunday, waiting in Group F. It’ll only get tougher for the Swedes and the South Koreans.Sweden’s top frontman post-Ibrahimovich is striker Marcus Berg. Under coach Janne Andersson, there’s a feeling that this team, with defender and captain Andreas Granqvist and attacking midfielder Emil Forsberg, is more balanced. Not so reliant on one player, albeit an exceptional player.In contrast, South Korea is hugely reliant on Tottenham forward Son Heung-min to restore some faith. Excitement for soccer in South Korea appears to be near an all-time low, with U.S. President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the after-effects of that far more fascinating for Koreans right now than an under-performing national team.IBRAHIMOVICH’S TAKENow with LA Galaxy, Ibrahimovich is at the World Cup in Russia doing sponsor commitments and still attracting attention. He said Sweden without him won’t be under as much pressure and that might allow the team to operate with more freedom. But he’s recently reacted sarcastically — and in a typically Ibrahimovich way — to suggestions that he wasn’t a team player and Sweden is better off: “I played in Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, PSG, Manchester United, (Los Angeles) Galaxy,” he said. “So if you don’t know how to do it … why did you play in the biggest teams in the world and won?”ADVERTISEMENT Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew View comments FILE – The March 27, 2017 file photo shows Sweden’s national soccer team before an international friendly soccer match between Romania and Sweden on the Ion Oblemenco stadium in Craiova, Romania. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, file)NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia — Sweden is without Zlatan Ibrahimovich and, for the first time since 2006, it’s at the World Cup.That’s the strange thing about Sweden. It may be better off without one of its best ever players.ADVERTISEMENT In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’ Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Winfrey details her decision to withdraw from Simmons film LATEST STORIES Sweden was expected to struggle after the international retirement of Ibrahimovich at the end of the European Championship in 2016. But it hasn’t worked out that way.Sweden put a positive spin on the striker’s absence by finishing ahead of Netherlands and then beating Italy in a playoff to qualify for Russia. It also beat France along the way. Maybe life won’t be so bad without Ibrahimovich, whose dominance of the team might have been as much of a hindrance as a help. That notion has been suggested by the Swedish media.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownSweden starts its first World Cup in 12 years on Monday against South Korea, a team that has failed to maintain its status in world soccer.South Korea reached the semifinals at home in 2002 and the last 16 in 2010, but the 2014 World Cup in Brazil brought no wins and a humiliating return home, when angry supporters pelted the team with candy at Incheon International Airport. Ibrahimovich’s running commentary could inspire the team to prove itself without him, but it could also become a distraction when it faces bigger tests later in the group stage.THE BIG ‘CHINOOK’While Son’s attacking versatility is the key to South Korea’s chances of restoring some of its reputation at this World Cup, the team also has high hopes that 6-foot-6 striker Kim Shin-wook will be a factor with his power in the air. Kim is nicknamed “Chinook” after the big Boeing tandem-rotor helicopter.SETTINGSweden vs. South Korea sees the World Cup come for the first time to Nizhny Novgorod, the city just east of Moscow where the famed Volga River converges with the Oka and where writer Maxim Gorky was born. It’s also the city that was closed off to foreigners for years to safeguard the Soviet Union’s military research and production facilities.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next DepEd’s Taal challenge: 30K students displaced Dave Chappelle donates P1 million to Taal relief operations Volcano watch: Island fissures steaming, lake water receding The next Antetokounmpo: Kostas awaits his draft-night call Jury of 7 men, 5 women selected for Weinstein rape trial Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Steam emission over Taal’s main crater ‘steady’ for past 24 hourslast_img read more