Swede star Eklund's double goal
GOAL ace Hans Eklund is a man on a double mission for the Swedes of Helsingborgs tonight against Ipswich Town at Portman Road.The 11-goal front man wants to help his side achieve a UEFA Cup second round first leg lead and also impress an English club.
By Dave Allard
GOAL ace Hans Eklund is a man on a double mission for the Swedes of Helsingborgs tonight against Ipswich Town at Portman Road.
The 11-goal front man wants to help his side achieve a UEFA Cup second round first leg lead and also impress an English club.
The experienced Swedish international has always had an ambition to play in this country and the fact that tonight's game is being televised live on BBC1 (kick-off 8.05pm) is an added bonus.
Eklund has also played in Switzerland, Denmark and China.
"I'm 32 now and enjoy playing for Helsingborgs, but I wouldn't turn down the chance to move abroad again," he said. "I would love to play in England as I have always been interested in football over here.
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"I was a Liverpool fan as a youngster and they are still my favourite team. I grew up watching players like Kevin Keegan, Ian Rush and John Aldridge at Anfield. Their way of playing was an inspiration to everyone."
Eklund hopes to be an inspiration tonight for his team in a tie that will be concluded in the return leg in Sweden in a fortnight.
"We have a very effective counter-attack system that has proved to be successful in Europe before," he said.
"The players know that we must remain cool, work hard, stay strong at the back and grab the opportunities when they arise.
"I have not had a brilliant season myself, despite scoring 11 goals, but hopefully if the chances come against Ipswich I will be able to add to that number."
Eklund and his Helsingborgs team-mates trained under the Portman Road lights last night watched by officials of both clubs together with British and Swedish media representatives.
"We know what will await us," said the dangerman from Scandinavia.
He added: "It will be a very high intensity game against a tough but honest side, but we are not going to be a pushover.
"I did not know much about Ipswich when the draw was made, but we have been watching videos of their matches and have talked about the way they are likely to play.
"From what we have seen they played some great football last year and we all know it will be a very hard match for us," said Eklund. "But I am looking forward to playing against them."
Town go into the game defending an unbeaten home record in European competition.
There are tickets available for tonight. They will be on sale at the ticket office until kick-off.
The club ask fans to be in the stadium by 7.45pm at the latest as UEFA president Lennart Johansson will be officially opening the new South Stand.
IPSWICH: Sereni, Wilnis, McGreal, Venus, Hreidarsson, Reuser, Magilton, Holland, Stewart, Naylor, George, Wright, Makin, Peralta, Counago, Gaardsoe, Bent, Clapham, T Miller, Armstrong, Branagan.
HELSINGBORGS: S Andersson, C Andersson, Gustavsson, Nilsson, J Jansson, Matovac, Hansson, Lindstrom, U Jansson, Bakkerud, Eklund, Santos, Larsson, Lindberg, Johansen, Prica, Pelu, Silva, Ekenburg.
Referee: Wolfgang Sowa (Austria).