Sweden forward Johan Elmander admits his team cannot afford to underestimate tomorrow's FIFA World Cup™ qualifying opponents Kazakhstan. The eastern European nation are ranked 142nd in the world but almost embarrassed Republic of Ireland on Friday in their opening Group C match, eventually losing 2-1 after conceding two very late goals.
Elmander believes that should serve a warning to Sweden as they begin their campaign in Malmo, especially after a disappointing performance in their warm-up friendly win over China PR.
"It is not as easy as it was a few years ago against these teams, the ones we should be better against on paper," said the Galatasaray player. "It is easier to play defensive football than to attack, so it's important to take chances when they come.
"It's a World Cup qualifier now. Training matches are training matches and it is certainly different with Kazakhstan."
Defender Jonas Olsson watched Kazakhstan's match with the Republic and echoed Elmander's words of warning.
"They gave a good team like Ireland a scare so we are set for a tough match. Defensively, they were good," said the West Brom centre-back. "They have fast forwards who ran and worked a lot so it will be a test."
Koller calls for concentration
In Group C's other match tomorrow Austria begin their campaign against neighbours Germany, who started last week with a win over the Faroe Islands. Coach Marcel Koller plays his first competitive match since taking charge almost a year ago and overseeing three victories and a draw in friendlies.
"I'm really looking forward to this game. You get sweaty palms but this is not to do with nervousness but with effort," said the 52-year-old. "Now it is important, also from the coaching side, that we have composure.
"We must concentrate and be consistent until the final whistle. If we succeed in doing this, I am convinced that we can have a good game. You can feel in Austria that the Germany match is the game of games but for me it's just an important game for the start of qualifying."