Legendary Sweden defender Roland Nilsson feels winning their opening 2018 World Cup encounter with South Korea could be the key to a successful summer for his countrymen.
Sweden will go on to face world champions Germany any Mexico in their remaining Group F games and Nilsson, currently boss of the U21s, suggests a fast start could help build some momentum in the tournament.
Nilsson played in two World Cups, with greatly contrasting fortunes. At Italia ’90, Sweden failed to collect a single point and went home after the group stage.
Four years later in the United States they played some swashbuckling football and were leading scorers as they lost 1-0 to Brazil in the semi-final before hammering Bulgaria 4-0 to finish third.
The current Swedish team is more workmanlike than star-studded but they ousted Italy in the play-offs and Nilsson feels they can have an impact in Russia.
“It’s like we found in 1990 and ’94: get a good start, build some momentum and you never know,” he said. “I think that first game will be really vital.
“This Sweden team are a good, hard-working group and they did brilliantly to come through that play-off against Italy. It will be tough for them to match what we did in ’94, we all know that. But if they can get the right blend and enjoy a bit of luck and a good start, they can do well.”
Sweden are 2.30 to qualify from Group F, while they are 3.40 to finish second to Germany.