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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 October 2018

Marcus Berg proud of Sweden's World Cup campaign but 'we could have achieved more'

Sweden's No 9 was noncommittal when asked about his Al Ain future as he looks forward to a holiday before the new season

Marcus Berg, right, worked tirelessly during Sweden's World Cup campaign but could not find the back of the net. Peter Powell / EPA
Marcus Berg, right, worked tirelessly during Sweden's World Cup campaign but could not find the back of the net. Peter Powell / EPA

Marcus Berg left Russia with his Sweden team on Saturday night, bound for a heroes welcome when they arrive in Stockholm.

Yet the Al Ain forward was left ruing what might have been, after finishing the tournament with the worst record in front of goal at a World Cup for any Swede in more than 40 years.

Berg hit 16 shots in five games, but failed to find the net and while he said he has no complaints about losing to England in the quarter-finals on Saturday night, he believes a place in the last-four was not out of Sweden reach.

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“I think we could have achieved more,” he said. “We weren't really there with a top performance, but, of course, I am proud of what we have done. Against low odds, we came to the World Cup and to make it to the quarter-finals we have to be proud. But you never want it to end.”

Berg, 31, finished top goalscorer in the UAE last season, hitting 36 goals in 36 games to lead Al Ain to both the Arabian Gulf League title and the President’s Cup. His shooting boots seem to have remained in the Garden City this past month, however.

After spurning a series of chances in previous games, he was better against England, combining well at times with Viktor Claesson.

Yet he saw his two best goalscoring opportunities well saved. First, his well-placed header had Jordan Pickford diving quickly to his left post early in the second-half, and later his half-volley on the turn forced the Everton goalkeeper to tip over.

Berg’s next competitive match is expected to be the Arabian Gulf Super Cup against Al Wahda next month, before the club get their title defence underway with an away trip to Emirates on August 31.

With one year left on his contract in the UAE, the Swede was noncommittal about his future, insisting for now he is only planning to escape the spotlight for a little while.

“I don't know yet,” he said, when asked what his plans were. “We will see. I will have some quality time with my family, forget about football and then we will see. I need some time off, mostly for the mental part, in order to come back stronger.”