LINUS LINDAHL / AIPS* in SHARJAH: Lars-Erik Nilsson, chairman of the Swedish Football Association, declared, “This is Swedish football history” after seeing Sweden knock Japan out of the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013.

Sweden, outsiders to reach the quarter-finals where they play Honduras, progressed – as Lars-Erik Nilsson saw for himself – by playing exactly the game their coaches wanted when the battle began.

“It is fantastic to see how theory and practice keeps together; they performed exactly as they were told,” said Nilsson.

He started to follow coach Roland Larsson’s young players in May when they finished third in the European Championship and qualified to their first FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Nilsson believes these players are on creating something significant not only for their team and their own careers but also for Swedish football.

He said: “I think it will mean a lot for young boys and girls who struggle to see that this is possible. It is important for the people who work with these young players that the model we work with is working in hard international competition.

“It also means a lot for the future of Swedish football that our younger national teams have the chance to play against highly competitive national teams. These players who are going to represent the senior national team in the future – and I am sure some of them will do that – are collecting invaluable experiences.”

Unfortunately duties back home will prevent Nilsson supporting the young national team in Friday’s quarter-final against Honduras in Al Ain. He has to return home to attend the last games of the Allsvenskan (the Swedish national league) and “hand out the medals.”


* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA

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