(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Arsenal legend and ex-Sweden international Fredrik Freddie' Ljungberg is eagerly looking forward to the prospect of a European team winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, although no country from that continent has ever won the coveted trophy on South American soil.
The 37 year old Ljungberg, who is in Muscat on a visit to Arsenal Soccer School Oman, told Muscat Daily on Monday, ''From Europe, Germany and Spain are great teams, but I think Portugal's gameplay is better suited to the heat in Brazil. Brazil, as the hosts, are considered as one of the favourites to win the World Cup. Personally, I like Argentina, but it needs to be seen how far they reach.''
Ljungberg played for Arsenal from 1998-2007 and was capped 216 times, scoring 46 goals as a midfielder. He also played for Sweden in 75 games, scoring 16 goals.
The Swedish international was part of the all-conquering team of 2002 and 2004. He was a member of the Arsenal side that romped to the Premier League title unbeaten, and also won three FA Cups, scoring in the 2002 final win over Chelsea.
Ljungberg was also part of the side that reached, but lost, the 2006 Champions League final against Barcelona in Paris.
Since leaving Arsenal, he played in leagues in the US, Japan, Scotland and Malaysia. A former Sweden captain, he retired from football in 2012.
Recalling his playing days at Arsenal, he said, ''While playing for Arsenal, we were players from different nationalities, which helped us enrich ourselves culturally. I always enjoyed that and I do enjoy travelling and meeting new people.''
Ljungberg rubbished rumours that he has already signed up for a newly-proposed football league in India as a player.
He said, ''I haven't made any decisions yet on signing up. If I do, it will be on the lines of playing a few exhibition matches for the franchises and promoting the league. The concept is a great one and it will popularise the game in India. But I am yet to confirm anything.''
Speaking about the slump that the Gunners have faced in recent years, Ljungberg said, ''During my playing days, we had great players at every position. It was a pleasure to play with all of them and I believe we had a lot of pace, which is missing from the current stream of players. In today's football, the time taken to play from defence to attack plays a huge part. The boys need to concentrate on that.''
He also said that there has been a certain financial strain on the club due to the building of its new stadium, but then that shouldn't be an excuse for not performing well consistently.
''It is true that the club underwent a bit of financial strain after building a new stadium, but we did make some good signings over the summer,'' he pointed out. ''Bringing in Mesut Ozil gave a big boost to the team. It was evident in the way they performed at the start of the season.''
Ljungberg is keeping his options open for the future, and is currently concentrating on getting his new franchise back home - Freddie Sports Bar - to newer locations. ''It's not like I am young anymore. I need to settle down. If the Indian league happens, it's well and good. But otherwise, I would like to concentrate on business back home,'' the Premier League veteran said.
Kids enjoy session with Swedish star:
Freddie Ljungberg was quite naturally the star attraction at the Arsenal Soccer School Oman's meet-and-greet programme at the British School Muscat (BSM) on Monday, where he also interacted with schoolchildren and gave them a tip or two.
Also present with him were Mihir Khimji, the director of Arsenal Soccer School Oman, and Ross Plain, senior coach at the football school.
Ljungberg said, ''It's great to be in Oman and see so many passionate parents exposing their children to a good quality football training syllabus principled by coach Ars