Granqvist relishing leadership roles in Sweden and Russia
When Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced his retirement from international football after UEFA EURO 2016, many assumed that the loss of Sweden’s talismanic leader would damage their chances of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.
However, this has proved far from the case, as after six matches played the Swedes are sitting atop qualifying Group A above favourites France and the Netherlands. Ibrahimovic’s replacement as captain, Andreas Granqvist - who plays his club football in Russia for FC Krasnodar - says that he never doubted that there would be life after Zlatan.
"I've played in three EUROs," Granqvist said in an interview with FIFA.com, "but so far I’ve never made it to a World Cup. Yet for an international footballer it’s the most important competition. It would be extremely painful to mess up this chance and miss the boat for the World Cup again, especially as it’s taking place in Russia, where I’ve been playing for the last four years”.
“I’m not bothered about the cities that are hosting it; excellent new stadiums have been built all over the country. The Confederations Cup in Russia left a good impression, and I’m sure the World Cup will be an even greater success. I really hope we will be partaking in this celebration. Getting to Russia 2018 will be a breath of fresh air for Swedish football."