By Philip O’Connor
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden are still capable of reaching the Euro 2016 finals despite losing “two catastrophic matches” to Group G rivals Russia and Austria, captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic said.
The Swedes, who face Liechtenstein on Friday before finishing their campaign at home to Moldova on Monday, were beaten 1-0 by Russia last month.
They were then crushed 4-1 in Stockholm by group leaders Austria, a result that allowed the Austrians to win the group and book their place in the finals in France next year.
“In my world, they were two catastrophic matches,” Paris Saint Germain striker Ibrahimovic told a news conference. “I’m never happy when I lose, and sometimes I’m not even happy when I win. They weren’t good results.
“We lost both games, there was nothing positive to take from the two matches.”
The Swedes are in third place with 12 points, two behind second-placed Russia. They could still finish second to qualify automatically with six points still up for grabs for each team.
Sweden’s top international scorer with 57 goals in 107 internationals, Ibrahimovic is more concerned with winning the two upcoming qualifiers than adding to his tally.
“It’s not a game where you should be aiming to score a lot of goals, it’s a game we have to win. We need the three points we’re playing for, and then we have a home game we need to win,” Ibrahimovic said.
“If we win 1-0, 4-0, 5-0, it’s the same result for us.”
Asked if players from lower-ranked nations are more motivated when they play against him, Ibrahimovic said he welcomed the challenge.
“I hope so. I want to play teams and players when they are at their best. It’s a bigger challenge.”
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor, editing by Pritha Sarkar)