STOCKHOLM — His departure already assured, Sweden coach Janne Andersson is determined to enjoy his “last night with the gang” before his seven-year spell in charge of the national team comes to an end.
The Swedish soccer federation said Andersson would not continue in the role if the team failed to qualify for the European Championship. His fate was sealed when the Swedes lost to Austria last month.
The search for a replacement has begun, leaving Andersson with two final games — away to Azerbaijan and home to Estonia — as a sendoff.
“It feels special, like before the first one,” Andersson, who was hired after Euro 2016, said Wednesday. “We have had 92 international matches. It is a long time.
“I told (assistant) Peter (Wettergren) that it was a long time in primary school. Say that we started in first grade in 2016, now we’re in eighth grade. It’s a bit sad and wistful when you leave. But this last gathering will also be fun.”
It is Sweden’s first match since the suspension of the Euro 2024 qualifier against Belgium last month following the killing of two Swedish supporters in Brussels just before kickoff.
With at least one of the men shot dead wearing a Swedish soccer jersey at the time, the incident sparked a debate over whether the team’s travelling fans should wear clothing in national colors.
For the trip to Baku, Sweden hasn't announced which hotel the squad will stay.
“We are quite careful not to position ourselves in advance,” said Stefan Dejemyr, security officer with the national team, “precisely to avoid possible preparations from those who wish us ill."