Football: `England have to adapt' - Kaamark

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The Independent Online
LEICESTER CITY'S Pontus Kaamark, an influential figure in the Swedish defence on Saturday, believes the harum-scarum challenges encouraged in the Premiership will continue to cost England dear unless they modify their approach to make allowances for stricter interpretation of the laws at international level.

Having played in England for three years, he was not surprised by the way Paul Scholes and David Batty went about their work in midfield or by the fact that both of them, and Alan Shearer, attracted punishment from the Spanish referee. Despite finding himself in close proximity to England's most gifted player, David Beckham, however, Kaamark was careful not to be tempted into similar sliding and lunging tackles.

"I wasn't really surprised, because I've been over here and we saw the Cup final, which was even harder. That's the way we play in the Premiership. The problem is when you have to change the way of playing, because in Europe even if you're aiming for the ball, if you miss the ball you get a yellow card.

"It's not easy for them to change their style. They don't try to fall down and stuff like that, it's a very honest kind of football, but in Europe the people they play against are very skilful players who can see a tackle coming and take advantage. It can look worse than it is. That's the problem for England, they get lots of yellow cards and then a red one."

Hakan Mild did not see Scholes's tackle coming in the first minute. "I was astonished he was not sent off straight away," said the midfielder. He looked wound-up from the start. But he tends to play that way most of the time."

Sweden's assistant coach, Lars Lagerback, added: "Hakan has stud-marks from his chest to his thigh and if you have that sort of mark, it means you have gone in with your foot up. I thought England started very aggressively."

Coventry's goalkeeper, Magnus Hedman, given one shot to save in 90 minutes, was surprised Beckham did not receive better service on the right. With Fredrik Ljungberg of Arsenal drifting inside, rather than marking Beckham, Kaamark was initially in two minds as to whether to go tight on him or drop off.

"We had problems at first because he went deep and got hold of the ball," Kaamark said. "When I started to push up a bit, they used the space behind me. Then Freddie came back more and our wingers did a good defensive job, which made it harder for England to create. When we closed down the wing areas, I thought they were standing still; they didn't threaten."

Sweden's is anything but a new team, with Kaamark the junior member of the back- four despite his 45 caps. The right-back Roland Nilsson, the captain Patrik Andersson and Joachim Bjorklund have played almost 250 internationals between them, going back as far as the 1994 World Cup semi- final.

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