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Swedes sent home after late night

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STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Swedish coach Lars Lagerback has sent home Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Olof Mellberg and Christian Wilhelmsson for staying out too late ahead of this week's Euro 2008 qualifier with Liechtenstein.

"The players were given the afternoon and evening off on Sunday on the agreement that all would gather back at the hotel at 2300," the Swedish FA said in a statement.

"All the players were back for the late evening gathering, but three of the players stayed out later and returned to the hotel at about 0115," the statement added.

The association named the three players as Inter Milan striker Ibrahimovic, Aston Villa defender Mellberg and Nantes midfielder Wilhelmsson.

"It is the consideration of the team's leadership that the three broke the common agreement and it has therefore been decided that the three have to leave the team in Gothenburg immediately," the statement added.

Lagerback said: "The decision I took is the most irritating I have had to take in my career not only as national coach but as a coach," he said.

The team management explained that the trio had left the hotel against orders and had not returned until the early morning, though, according to some reports they did not drink alcohol.

Mellberg had been celebrating his 29th birthday and his agent released a statement saying his client apologized for not having respected the curfew.

Sweden, who disappointed at the World Cup finals crashing out tamely 3-0 to Germany in the second round, won their opening qualifier on Saturday beating Latvia 1-0 in Riga.


story.ibrahimovic.afp.gi.jpg

Ibrahomivic in action during Sweden's tame World Cup loss to Germany.

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