The Republic of Ireland will encounter a Swedish side more skilful than Martin O’Neill’s men in Euro 2016, according to Galway United defender Armin Aganovic, who played with many of the national team in his native Sweden.
The Swede joined Galway United at the start of this season and has warned O’Neill’s men of the task they face in June. The two countries clash at Stade de France in their Group E encounter on June 13.
And 26-year-old Aganovic has experience of playing alongside and against some of the best that Sweden have to offer during his time with Mjallby AIF and Kristianstads FC.
Aganovic, who has yet to feature for Galway United due to a knee injury, says Sweden play with a completely different style to Ireland.
Aganovic is a former teammate of Christian Wilhelmsson, who had spells with Roma, Deportivo La Coruna, and Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League.
Wilhelmsson is a likely member of the Swedish squad, along with Oscar Lewicki and Abdul Khalili and Aganovic says these are all flair players that could cause Ireland problems.
“I enjoy the Irish mentality. I remember before Bosnia played against Ireland. Robbie Keane went out and said now we are going to show Bosnia what it’s like to play against Irish street-kids. I enjoy that mentality,” said Aganovic, who has Bosnian roots.
“Because Bosnians have the same mentality so I really enjoy that. Ireland have the advantage in that way because they have such a good mentality and that can win games.
“Sweden has a little bit less of that, but they like to play with the ball a bit more. They have good players and it’s a great mix.
“I would say the Swedes are more structured and organised and play a little bit more possession football. Winning the games with a bit more tactics, and making teams tired by keeping the ball,” said Aganovic, who was speaking at the opening of the refurbished Life Style Sports in Galway Retail Park on the Headford Road.
He joined Galway United after he finished up with Mjallby AIF in the Swedish league, the Allsvenskan, and impressed manager Tommy Dunne in the FifPro tournament.
Aganovic believes Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the obvious threat to Ireland when they clash in Paris.
The Paris St Germain man is adored back in Sweden and Aganovic thinks that, even at the age of 34, the Manchester United target will play a pivotal role.
“Sweden have Zlatan Ibrahimovic and that’s always great. They have a good squad, and are going very well this year too, but Zlatan is on fire.
“Sweden are better now than they were last year and the year before that. They are peaking now. But it’s all about Zlatan.
“At home they say here is the King, not officially, but he is the King. There is not a kid who doesn’t like Zlatan. Even if you are not interested in football you love Zlatan.
“And he has done so much for Sweden. He has generally put them on the map in so many countries. He is a big man, not just physically, he is a big man. I was a striker when I was a kid, I am a defender now and I have other idols, but of course I have loved Zlatan since he started.
“I remember when he went to Ajax and then Inter Milan. It was huge for Sweden, if you score a goal people joke that you are Zlatan,” added Aganovic.
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