Anthony Elanga of Manchester United gets fatherly advice from Zlatan Ibrahimovic as he finally gets a chance to play for Sweden

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Sweden’s football legend, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has taken out time to advise Anthony Elanga to strive for more after the teenager got his first call up to Sweden’s national team.

The 19-year-old Manchester United left-winger had the choice of playing for Cameroon, England, or Sweden but chose to play for Sweden which is his country of birth.

Funny enough, Anthony Elanga might have the opportunity of playing on the same team as Zlatan Ibrahimovic who played with his father Joseph Elanga at Swedish side Malmö in the early 2000s.

Note that Joseph Elanga is a retired Cameroon international who had Anthony Elanga in the city of Malmö on 27 April 2002. He could not convince his 19-year-old son to play for Cameroon.

On the other hand, Elanga who joined the Manchester United youth team in 2015 could not wait for coach Gareth Southgate to invite him to the Three Lions of England. He said his heart is with Sweden national team.

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Fortunately for Elanga, Sweden manager Janne Andersson decided to invite him to the national team at a very important stage of the country’s football history. The 19-year-old left-winger is joining the country’s team at a point Sweden need to beat the Czech Republic on Thursday, March 24, to book a place in the last phase of the FIFA World Cup playoffs.

Anthony Elanga and Zlatan Ibrahimovic during a press conference.
Anthony Elanga and Zlatan Ibrahimovic during a press conference.

If Sweden succeeds in beating the Czech Republic, the country will face Poland in the last phase of the playoff. Recall that Poland ought to play Russia before they can qualify for the last phase of the playoff. But they automatically qualified after FIFA banned Russia from playing international as punishment for invading Ukraine.

Ahead of the World Cup playoff between Sweden and the Czech Republic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic told SVT Sport that he was happy that Elanga decided to play for Sweden.

The veteran Swedish striker who is currently contracted to AC Milan urged the 19-year-old football star never to be contented, adding that Elanga’s development in the game depends on Elanga.

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“He’s [Elanga] a great talent, we are proud and happy that he comes from Sweden”, Ibrahimovic said. “That he can represent Sweden now makes it even bigger.

“He has all the future ahead of him, and if he continues just as he has done, it looks positive. It’s just fighting, never being content, striving for more. How much he can develop depends on him.”

What is the role Anthony Elanga in Sweden set up

Anthony Elanga training with Sweden national team.
Anthony Elanga training with Sweden national team.

Since Anthony Elanga break into Manchester United’s first eleven this season, coach Ralf Rangnick often uses him as a left-winger.

Elanga who has scored 8 goals and provided 3 assists in 28 games in all competitions for Manchester United, is known to be very fast on the ball which is an efficient attribute for an attacking-minded team.

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He is expected to bring that same form to the current set-up of Sweden’s national team that is making all effort to make it to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Ahead of the first phase of the playoff, the manager of the Sweden national team, Janne Andersson has this to say about Elanga’s role in the national team: “He (Elanga) has said that Sweden applies to him 100%. I trust what he said to me.

“It depends on what role you have in the team. If we’re talking about someone like Anthony, if we were to chase something, we could bring him in. If we defend and counter, then we can use him that way too.

“Will he play from the start? He will not do that unless anything unforeseen happens, but he can definitely jump in for us.”

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