Sweden have failed to register a shot on target in either of their Euro 2016 outings, but coach Erik Hamren does not believe captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic is to blame.
An own goal from Ciaran Clark earned Sweden a 1-1 draw with Republic of Ireland in their Group E opener, but they had no such fortune as Eder consigned them to a 1-0 defeat against Italy in Toulouse on Friday.
Hamren lamented his team’s shortcomings in the final third in France but insisted he is satisfied with the contribution of star striker Ibrahimovic.
“The forward line played very well in the first half and we had some goalscoring chances, but in the last 20 minutes we didn’t hold firm enough and we didn’t create the chances we needed – we weren’t quite close enough to Zlatan Ibrahimovic at times,” he said.
“I think he [Ibrahimovic] did what he needed to in the last two matches. It was tough today because Italy defended very well.
“We had more of the ball than we did against Ireland but we didn’t create much pressure and obviously a centre forward needs support from wingers.
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) June 17, 2016
“Ibrahimovic is one of the greatest forwards that I’ve ever encountered, he’s a winner, and if he’s disappointed I think everyone can understand that and accept it – he was very disappointed like all of us. I think he does his best at all times.
“I would be happier if we scored some goals but we did our best. Today we played a strong, defensive team – even Belgium didn’t score against them.”
Sweden will require a positive result in their final group game against Belgium if they are to have a chance of reaching the last 16, and Hamren assured work is being done to raise their effectiveness in the final third.
“We need to do the same defensive work like we did today, but we need to be better in attack if we are going to win the game,” he added.
“That’s what we have to improve and I can assure you we are doing our best to create those chances.”