Erik Hamrén has told Sweden not to fear Ukraine in their first game in Kyiv, telling UEFA.com: "It is going to be yellow and blue all over the arena, so we can just pretend they're all Swedish."
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Credited with transforming Sweden from a solid defensive side to a team with real attacking verve, coach Erik Hamrén told UEFA.com that , for all of the quality of main man Zlatan Ibrahimovic, success at UEFA EURO 2012 is dependent on the form of their less illustrious players.
UEFA.com: How would you describe your footballing philosophy?
Erik Hamrén: It’s all about winning. If you don’t win you won’t be able to continue being a coach. First, I have to be successful; we want to win. But then you get the choice: how you are going to win, what, as a coach, do you do? Personally, I think with football that is attack-minded as as possible.
UEFA.com: Zlatan Ibrahimović is the team captain and the biggest name in the squad: what does he mean to this side?
Hamrén: He is a world-class player which everyone sees and recognises, and when he plays well he can be one who adds that little bit extra. But it doesn’t matter whether Zlatan is in top form if the rest of us aren’t. For me as a coach, it’s a big challenge to get everyone at their best at the same time. That’s where our opportunity lies. If we are at our best, we can beat any team, as we showed in qualifying, against the Netherlands for example. It’s not enough to just have Zlatan in top form: it has to be all of us.
UEFA.com: Sweden scored 31 goals in qualifying with a lot of different players on target. What does that mean for the team?
Hamrén: We know we are not dependent on any single player - we can score goals, we can win matches, even though, in some matches during qualification, we didn’t have Ibrahimović, or Olof Mellberg. They are the two best players in the Swedish team. They have been away a few times because of injuries and suspensions and still, we were successful without them as well. That’s proof that we have a good group.
UEFA.com: You play co-hosts Ukraine in your opening game. Does that make things more difficult?
Hamrén: Yes. It doesn’t happen very often that the host nation gets beaten in the opening game. There is such an enormous focus on the opening game for the host nation which means it will be an extra challenge for us, which we plan to take on as much as possible. We want to win the match so we have to take that challenge. There will be quite some pressure, and you cannot afford to listen to what is being screamed. It is going to be yellow and blue all over the arena, so we can just pretend that they are all Swedish.