Belfast Telegraph

Gorkss tells NI fans: we can beat the Swedes

By Mark McIntosh

While Northern Ireland players and fans will be praying Latvia beat Sweden tonight, they can take heart that the Latvians fully expect to do the business in Stockholm.

Blackpool defender Kaspar Gorkss isn't pulling any punches ahead of the match that could have a major say in Northern Ireland's Euro 2008 destiny.

Sweden's collapse against Spain on Saturday night means they still need a point against the Latvians to book their place in Austria and Switzerland next summer, but if they slip up, Nigel Worthington's troops will be waiting in the wings if they can beat Spain.

The Swedes have been struggling in the latter stages of the competition and Gorkss believes Latvia will take full advantage.

"Nerves are going to affect Sweden because they've already had chances to qualify and didn't do it," said Gorkss.

"The pressure to get a point will have a major influence on the game and we have to make sure we are ready to take advantage.

"Anything can happen and there is no doubt in my mind that we can win.

"We're not thinking about doing Northern Ireland any favours; we want to win for Latvia.

"The good thing for us is that we have been playing well and scoring goals in our last few games so hopefully everything will click into place for us."

While Latvia are confident of giving Northern Ireland every chance of making it to Austria and Switzerland, the Swedish players are sure they can get out of their recent slump.

A win against Northern Ireland last month would have sent Lars Lagerback's men to the finals, but after only drawing, then suffering a 3-0 defeat in Madrid on Saturday, their qualification hopes hang in the balance.

Lyon midfielder Kim Kallstrom said: "This isn't going to be a problem. It's a new game, a new life for us and if we can sort this out, we can forget what has happened in the last few games."

Freddie Ljungberg won't be holding out for Spain to do his country any favours tonight.

The West Ham star insists Sweden will have to be strong enough to do the hard work themselves, but he stopped short of saying he will be gracing Euro 2008.

"We have to do this ourselves," said the ex-Arsenal man.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph