June 26, 2018 / 10:33 AM / 21 days ago

Sweden seek win over Mexico with off-field issues behind them

YEKATERINBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Sweden have moved on from the off-field issues that dominated the headlines after their defeat by Germany and are determined to beat Mexico for a place in the last 16, coach Janne Andersson said on Tuesday.

Soccer Football - World Cup - Sweden Training - Ekaterinburg Arena, Yekaterinburg, Russia - June 26, 2018. Sweden's coach Janne Andersson and players during training. REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge

The Scandinavians conceded a goal in the 95th minute in their Group F match on Saturday, with winger Jimmy Durmaz later subjected to racial abuse on social media for giving away the free kick that led to Toni Kroos’s goal.

Sweden were also incensed by the reaction of two German team officials to the goal, accusing them of “rubbing it in”. FIFA opened disciplinary proceedings against the pair.

“We are coming into tomorrow’s game expecting to perform at the top level. We have everything to gain and we are mentally strong ahead of the match,” Andersson told a news conference.

“We have a good feeling within the squad. We showed that we were able to play against the defending champions all the way with the exception of the final few minutes.”

Sweden, who have rallied behind Durmaz, can qualify with a victory or a draw against Mexico if Germany lose to South Korea. If Sweden and Germany both win, Andersson’s team could advance on goal difference.

Soccer Football - World Cup - Group F - South Korea vs Mexico - Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don, Russia - June 23, 2018 Mexico players pose for a team group photo before the match REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

However, the 55-year-old coach is not taking Mexico lightly, with “El Tri” having already beaten Germany and South Korea.

“They are a good team and we have great respect for them,” Andersson added.

“They have a lot of skilled players in the team and are technically gifted. But we’re well prepared and we will do everything to get the result we need.”

Andersson said that set-pieces could play an important role for Sweden on Wednesday.

“Let’s hope the height of the players will play a part because we’re good in those situations,” Andersson said, adding that he may not make too many changes to the team that started the last match.

“We showed in the matches against South Korea and Germany that we’re very good at set-pieces, both in attack and defence,” skipper Andreas Granqvist added.

“I think that’s going to be a big component tomorrow.”

Additional reporting by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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