Football / World Cup USA '94: Sweden laugh off the Saudi threat

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SWEDEN ought to know by now that underestimating Saudi Arabia, victors over Belgium and unlucky losers to Holland, can be very dangerous. Apparently not.

'If we lose to the Saudis, everybody will see the World Cup as a fiasco,' said the striker Martin Dahlin. Sweden's coach Tommy Svensson was equally incautious. 'Saudi Arabia will not be much of a contest,' he said. 'We are already looking ahead to the quarter-finals.'

After reviewing tapes of the Saudis' three first-round matches, Svensson said the Arabs were predictable.

Svensson waits until today to finalise his team after giving his nephew, the central defender Joachim Bjorklund, a fitness test on a groin strain. The goalkeeper Thomas Ravelli is expected to have recovered from the knock to his left knee suffered against Brazil.

The Romanians are relishing their meeting with crisis-torn Argentina. 'I am happy we are playing Argentina,' said the Romania coach, Anghel Iordanescu. 'We respect them, of course, and it will be a close game, but this is a good time to be playing them. Apart from missing Florin Raducioiu I will have my strongest team.'

However the suspension of Raducioiu is a bigger blow than Iordanescu admits. The Milan forward, one of the most promising performers of the opening round, will probably be replaced by the inexperienced Marian Ivan of Brasov.

Argentina could draft in Hugo Perez to curb the midfield influence of Gheorghe Hagi. Perez also has a good shot and a fondness for breaking from deep positions.