A disappointing week for Swedish football fans has at least ended with some good news as Zlatan Ibrahimović laid any fears about his future to rest at a press conference, the very first question of which was an enquiry asking if he would continue to play for the national team. "Absolutely" came the response.
Speculation was rife among the press when the Swedish Football Association (SvFF) announced that Sunday's training session would be followed by an Ibrahimović press conference. Could it be that he felt fed up after the early elimination from UEFA EURO 2012 and intended to retire from the international game?
The answer came straight away and was crystal clear. "I'm still motivated," said Ibrahimović. "I want much more and I will do much more. What has happened is absolutely not positive but the only effect is that I want even more."
The 30-year-old's goal in their opening fixture made him Sweden's top goalscorer in the UEFA European Championship, both in final tournaments and overall, but as it preceded a Ukraine comeback, a 2-1 defeat and a 3-2 reverse against England, it counted for little.
"What does it help if I play well if we don't win?" said the forward, who drew comparisons with his 28 Serie A strikes for AC Milan in 2011/12, his most successful season in front of goal but one which ended without silverware. "It was the same with Milan. I was the league's top scorer, but I would rather win and play worse."
Ibrahimović nevertheless remained sanguine at Sweden's early exit, pointing out that it was a debut tournament for half the squad as well and the coach. "It was Erik [Hamrén]'s first championship. We have played well, but nobody is perfect. Without making mistakes you won't learn anything.
We made mistakes, now we'll learn from them and come back even stronger."
Sweden will finish fourth in Group D regardless of the result against France, but there is determination in the squad to bid farewell to UEFA EURO 2012, and Kyiv, on a high note. "We're playing for our honour against France," their captain said. "We are going to bring points with us back home. We've got one match left and will do something positive with it."
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