Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Striker calls Sweden team selection row ‘a joke’

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has criticised Sweden coach Janne Andersson for starting new Juventus signing Dejan Kulusevski on the bench in Saturday’s 1-0 Nations League defeat to world champions France.

Midfielder Kulusevksi came on for a 20-minute cameo but said in a post-match interview that he was shocked that he did not get to start.

Andersson’s surprised reaction to the criticism provoked a strong response from Sweden’s record goalscorer.

“What a damn joke. Further proof. Incompetent people in the wrong positions smothering Swedish football,” Ibrahimovic said on Twitter, along with a link to an article from newspaper Aftonbladet which featured coach Andersson’s post-match remarks.

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After scoring 62 goals in 116 games, Ibrahimovic retired from international football following Sweden’s exit from Euro 2016. The 38-year-old last month signed a further one-year deal with AC Milan worth around £6.2m.

Kulusevski was categorical when asked if he had been given enough time to show what he could do after coming on as a replacement for veteran Sebastian Larsson against France.

“No, no, I don’t think so. I was shocked. It felt really, really good in training. But unfortunately, that’s how football is,” said the 20-year-old, who was praised for his attacking performances on loan at Serie A side Parma last season.

Andersson, who took his team to the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia where they lost to England, said he was surprised at Kulusevski’s reaction.

“I haven’t spoken to him afterwards but if he has said it then that is clearly his opinion. We’ll have to talk about it,” Andersson told reporters.

“I haven’t experienced him as being very shocked. He has done well in the training session, as have many others.”

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