This Saturday, November 2 Team Sweden will host Great Britain in Kristianstad, Sweden to decide which country will reach the final four in the IFAF 2020 European Championships.
Sweden and Great Britain play in the IFAF 2020 European Championship Group A in Division D along with Russia. Both teams have beaten the Russian national team setting up this division final. Sweden downed Russia 34-7 in Moscow while GB defeated the same team 34-0 in a game played in London.
The format for the European Championships has changed somewhat this year. A total of 12 teams were slotted into four divisions of three teams each. The winners of each division advance to a final four that will meet in 2020. The second place teams will battle for spots 5-8 while the third place will compete for 9-12.
Currently, two divisions have already been determined with Team Italy and Team Finland each having won their respective divisions. Division D and A (France, Serbia, Czech Republic) are yet to be decided.
Swedish head coach Billy BD Kennedy is looking forward to the challenge.
Kennedy: The goal is to reach the European Championships and we have to win this game to get there. It’s hard to wish for anything more than that, games like this are why this sport is so fantastic. Our motto for the European Championship qualification has been “One camp, eight quarters” and to take each and every opportunity on the way there. Now four quarters of football remain and we look forward to the opportunity to play a game that is very important against a very good team.
What have you brought with you from the win against Russia?
Kennedy: I am very pleased with how we look after only four practices together, combined with the fact that we traveled to Moscow the same day we played that game. We kept our focus on the task and handled the distractions that always occur when traveling and playing on the same day. But the most important thing we bring is what good team we have. We have a talented Swedish roster and the players showed that against Russia. Our goal was to put together a national team with only starters and I think we did, the 30 players who traveled to Russia all contributed to the victory.
What was your analysis of the game?
Kennedy: The defense played solid football and made it difficult for Russia’s offense to create anything forward. The offense moved the ball. I am happy that we were able to both run and pass the ball, and that we had two QB’s who both produced. And our special teams were efficient and put their own points on the board.
And now Britain awaits on Saturday. What do you know about them?
Kennedy: We have studied their European qualifying game against Russia, and they impressed. They were able to establish a strong running game combined with a solid passing game. They have two good QBs who can both move the ball. On defense, they are fast and athletic. The whole team was impressive against Russia.
What will be the keys for Sweden on Saturday?
Kennedy: As always, the key to victory is on the line of scrimmage. The team that can take command there and win that battle will have the best chance of winning the game. But our focus is entirely on our own performance rather than on who we face. We have to hold onto the ball on offense and create turnovers on defense. If we do that we have a good chance of winning the game.
How does the team look?
Kennedy: The team has been bolstered by a couple of players who could not travel to Russia, so our depth will be better in this game which will help us. However, it is crucial on Saturday that every single player comes to the game ready to contribute right from the opening kick off. Every player on the team must produce like a starter.
The Swedish roster has been bolstered with the addition of a few key players including wide receiver Jonathan Gihl, defensive linemen Julian Santana and Sebastian Nilsson, defensive backs Josh Murphy, Sebastian Jönsson and Sebastian Gauthier as well as linebacker Robin Prevlovnic and offensive lineman Marco Gudding.
Team Sweden Roster
Watch for a full game preview and livestream here on AFI, Saturday, November 2 at 2 pm.