Under-fire Swedes play down spat after draw as 'typical'

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The Independent Football

Swedish officials have played down the confrontation between Olof Mellberg and Fredrik Ljungberg after the goalless draw with Trinidad & Tobago. The Premiership pair were involved in an altercation in the Sweden dressing-room minutes after the final whistle on Saturday, recalling the pair'sbust-up during the 2002 World Cup.

That incident saw the players grappling on the ground after a hefty challenge by Mellberg. However, the Sweden press chief, Thomas Saleteg, has poured cold water on this latest spat. "It was not a fight, but a short, but hot, dispute between some players. Two of those players were Mellberg and Ljungberg," Saleteg said. "It was a typical dressing-room situation."

The Swedes have come under fire after drawing with Trinidad & Tobago. Their hopes of reaching the knockout stages took a serious blow with the result and it appears only a victory will suffice in their second group game, against Paraguay on Thursday.

The manager, Lars Lagerback, has been criticised for his decision to play Anders Svensson in central midfield ahead of the talented playmaker Kim Kallstrom. Svensson had a poor game on Saturday, and was replaced by Marcus Allback in the second half. Kallstrom, who came on with 11 minutes remaining, impressed in the time he had.

"We are all looking forward to the game with Paraguay, either with Svensson or Kallstrom - or maybe both - from the start," Lagerback said.