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'If you perform, you are entitled to do those nice things. Well done to Sweden'

The mixed reviews of the Swedes’ ‘interesting’ new kit continue, with Vera Pauw and Katie McCabe sharing their opinions.

YOU’VE SURELY HEARD the one about Sweden’s new kit with details of, ‘How to stand a chance against us’ by now.

The stats and insights, which are also published on a website titled How to Stop Sweden.

“Thanks very much to Sweden, but we have Andy,” Vera Pauw smiles, with a nod to the Republic of Ireland women’s national team’s performance analyst Andy Holt.

“To confirm; we have not purchased the shirt,” captain Katie McCabe adds with a smirk.

Both have seen the social media posts and the marketing campaign, and may have even paid a visit to the website, but they’re firmly focused on all things Ireland ahead of tomorrow’s massive World Cup qualifier in Gothenburg [KO 5.30pm Irish time, live on RTE Two].

“I seen the jersey: how to stop them, or whatever like that,” Arsenal star McCabe nodded during this evening’s pre-match press conference at Gamla Ullevi Stadium.

“It’s an interesting release from them. Obviously they’re in a good place; they’re on the brink of qualification and they’ve got a Euros coming up in the summer time. It’s a confident move, I would say. That’s all I’ve got to say on that.”

Is it a bold move?

“No, no,” Pauw assured. Labelled arrogant by some but hailed by others, the reviews have certainly been mixed.

“Let’s not forget that Sweden is a powerhouse of women’s football,” the Dutch coach continued. “Back in 1982, they were at the first European Championships. They have always been at the top.

“If you perform, you are entitled to do those nice things. It would be strange if we were doing it. But Sweden? They’re entitled to it – USA, Germany, the Netherlands now… well done to Sweden.”

It was also a hot topic of conversation during the hosts’ pre-match press conference earlier in the day.

Manager Peter Gerhardsson made a point of hailing his “humble” group of “very good human beings, who have ambition to be the best in every moment and have respect for each other”.

What about the perception from the outside looking in, though?

Could it be seen as slightly arrogant?

“It is always marketing things and things like that – I think everybody knows things and if they don’t know it, buy the shirt and you can see it, I don’t know,” Gerhardsson said. “Every country have well-scouted teams and players.

“I don’t like to be an underdog. I don’t like the talk about it, that you like to be an underdog. You like to be a winner. When you win then you are starting something and it is more something you have done. If you are favourites, if you have a good ranking, it doesn’t mean you will win the next game. But it is nicer, I think. Also, the opportunity to win the game is better if you have a high ranking and you are the better team. 

“Somebody said it is the Swedish style that we like being underdogs but we should not talk about people – we are from Sweden, but we are human beings. These players I think they like to win, they like to be favourites.”

katie-mccabe-file-photo McCabe in action against Sweden. Source: PA

The three Swedish players up for press this afternoon –  Magdalena Eriksson, Caroline Seger and Kosovare Asllani — all hailed their opponents, who pushed them all the way in October’s 1-0 defeat in Dublin.

“It was a tough game for us but a really important win,” Chelsea star Eriksson said. “It will be a tough game tomorrow as well and we will do everything we can to get the three points.”

Asked about playing against Irish Gunner McCabe at club level, Eriksson hammered home the sentiment that she is one player they’ll be keeping a close eye on tomorrow.

“I like playing against Katie McCabe. You can tell she is really a competitive person and she likes to win and to play in these kind of games. She is a fantastic player, she has proven to be in really good with Arsenal and also with Ireland as well. She is a massive player. I enjoy playing against her and look forward to playing against her tomorrow.”

She also shared the team’s enjoyment at playing in front of a home crowd, with a sell-out 14,000 attendance and high-pressure party atmosphere expected at Gamla Ullevi Stadium. “We put that pressure on ourselves in every game we play,” Eriksson added. “There is nothing new there.”

That sell-out crowd certainly whets the appetite for one back home for McCabe and co.  

“It would be incredible. I think we’re progressing every time we play at home in terms of the number. The Sky advert, all those things will help us become more visible to the public to come out and support us.

“Having the fans in Tallaght Stadium cheer you on and keep you going until the 90th-plus minute is fantastic for us. As a team, we love that support, and we love engaging with them after as well. I think that’s a really special thing – the good connection we have – and one day I’d like to play in front of a sold out Tallaght Stadium. Hopefully we can continue to push that come September.”

Maybe even a sold out Aviva Stadium?

“That would be even better,” she beamed. “That’s next on our list. That would be unbelievable.

“We see the Camp Nou and Barcelona at the forefront of it, they’ve sold out the Wolfsburg semi-final now too. We’re playing more games at the Emirates so maybe a national game in the Aviva would be nice.”

BTL 5

About the author:

Emma Duffy  / reports from Gothenburg.

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