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Tuesday, 11 June, 2002, 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK
Mjallby takes responsibility
Mjallby (right) celebrates with Magnus Svensson after beating Nigeria
Mjallby (right) celebrates with Magnus Svensson after beating Nigeria

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Group F | Miyagi
Wed 12 June | 0730 BST

Stand-in skipper Johan Mjallby is relishing the extra responsibility that comes with leading Sweden's pursuit of qualification.

The Celtic defender has taken over the captain's armband for the past two games as a result of Patrick Andersson's injury problems, and will do so again on Wednesday.

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It feels like the most important game for Sweden in a long time - it is definitely the most important for me
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Johan Mjallby

It is not a problem for a player who started his football career as captain of his local side - until he started to irritate his team-mates.

"I wasn't a good captain when I was young. I was a bad loser and mostly ran around cursing at my own players," Mjallby said.

But, since those early days, he has been vice-captain at Swedish side AIK, Celtic and Sweden.

"I have always enjoyed the role of team captain, I like taking extra responsibility," he told the Expressen newspaper ahead of the deciding group game against Argentina.

"It feels like the most important game for Sweden in a long time - it is definitely the most important for me."

Coach Tommy Soderberg credited Mjallby with providing the inspirational word which lifted the Swedes after a dour first half against Sven-Goran Eriksson's England in the opening match.

Johan Mjallby says he enjoys the extra responsibility of being captain
Mjallby says he enjoys the extra responsibility of being captain

And, even if Mjallby plays down the incident, he highlights the need to inspire his players as the most important function of the role.

"Moments before we leave the changing room, the starting XI sits down and then I say something. But it's usually just a lot of cliches before I end with something to pump up the adrenalin," he said.

"Against Argentina, I guess I'll swear a bit: 'Let's go out there and show them' kind of stuff."

Meanwhile, first-choice captain Andersson is still hoping that a good Swedish preformance on Wednesday will give him a chance of playing in his second World Cup.

"You have to keep your spirits up," Andersson told Aftonbladet." I hope the team progresses, because that increases my chances of playing in the World Cup - even if the most important thing for me is to get well."


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 SQUAD PROFILES
GROUP F
  P GD PTS
SWEDEN 3 +1 5
ENGLAND 3 +1 5
ARGENTINA 3 0 4
NIGERIA 3 -2 1




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