Laid-back Hamren boosted by Elmander return

Sweden coach Erik Hamren said on Sunday that he and his squad were taking their opening game against Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine seriously despite their openly relaxed approach in training.

The 54-year-old - who has been in the post since 2009 - was in a light-hearted mood helped by the fact that former Toulouse and Bolton striker Johan Elmander had been passed fit to play.

Hamren had taken a risk in selecting the 30-year-old in the squad when he broke a toe in his final league game of the season with Turkish champions Galatasaray.

"He has had the green light from the doctors and that is excellent news," said Hamren.

"All that remains is whether he plays or not. There is still one training session and for the moment we have no injured players.

"It will also be up to the player himself. He will know if he is able to play and he will tell us. We have thought about it, we have spoken about it and we will talk more this evening."

Hamren said that the relaxed attitude was a better way for preparing for the game than ratcheting up the pressure on the players as it could have an adverse effect.

"I try to stay relaxed and calm. When the big games arrive, I believe it is best not to build them up into things that they are not," said Hamren.

"One has to put things into perspective, focus on the game. The last two days we just see how the players are feeling.

"On Monday, there will be tension, it is a huge match. There will be no need to motivate them, it is just important we find the right balance.

"The day will go at a snail's pace and it is crucial we are not ready too early.

"We need to be the most motivated at the moment the match kicks-off.

"The people who watched us at training saw us laughing and must have thought we were not taking things seriously.

"But is is just a way of channelling our energy. The guys are very well prepared, the risk for us is to up the pressure on them too much."

By contrast Sweden's star player Zlatan Ibrahimovic said that he thrived on the pressure generated by such high-profile matches.

"I always feel a lot of pressure when I play a game, whatever the game, be it for my club or my country," said the 30-year-old AC Milan striker.

"And I love that, that is to say it gives me a target and that I shouldn't let it go."

Hamren, who at club level has been twice a Norwegian title winner and once in Denmark, said that he was not concerned about his being able to sleep on the eve of the game unlike his Ukrainian counterpart Oleg Blokhin, who said he would sit up and watch videos.

"I always sleep well, it is maybe because nothing weighs too heavily on my conscience," he said laughing.

"I hope that will continue to be the case. And I dream a lot. I dream of winning. But I get up very early.

"On Monday, I will wake up with a big smile, do a little exercise.

"Then I will have my breakfast at the hotel, which is world class, and which has that day's Swedish newspapers.

"It will be a long day. But Monday evening, the stadium will be entirely draped in yellow and blue (both sides' national colours). It will be exciting and the match will be interesting."

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