Game Result & Report
Although American football is relatively a new sport and is a difficult game for both countries, the misting rain made it even difficult on Tuesday afternoon.
But the even more experienced team had the edge in the end.
Running back Per Bjornehammar ran for 74 yards in the second half, helping his team's struggle early in the game, as Sweden defeated France 16-14 in Pool 1 action of the 3rd IFAF World Championship at Kawasaki Stadium on Tuesday.
Bjornehammar had 108 yards in overall rushing, taking care of one third of the team's total rushing yards in the game.
``Feels good to play against France,'' Bjornehammar said after the game. ``Feels good to have out first game done. There is no doubt we're going to win and we did win.''
The continuous rain that started falling about an hour before the 3-p.m. kickoff made the game nearly impossible for both teams to have an air attack early on, but they struggled in running game as well.
In the hard condition, France got on the scoreboard first. In the first quarter, special team players/running back Damien Signori blocked a punt of Jens Alnervik, scooped the ball in the end zone for a touchdown as the clock expired.
But Sweden answered back soon in the following period. On 1st and 10 on France 24, Bjornehammar was once caught by French defenders, but successfully escaped from the tackles and ran into the end zone to equal the game at 7 with 8:21 left in the second quarter.
The game became more fascinating, deserving watching in the second half as the drizzling rain finally stopped.
Sweden went ahead with 8:07 remaining, when Carl-Johan Haraldson tossed a perfect feed to wide receiver Carl-Henrik Ingerman, who beat out a corner back that was covering him on a one-on-one situation and eventually scored a touchdown to put 13-7 (the bonus kick was missed).
Yet France, which was humiliated with a 48-0 loss to host Japan in the tournament opener on Saturday, would not yield easily this time.
Team France, which ended up in 0-for-3 in passing in the first half, got huge applauses with a passing play.
But it was the last of France's resistance. Sweden advanced the ball from its own 30 to France 26, renewing 1st downs three times and setting up a field goal stage for 35-year-old powerful kicker Ola Kimrin, arguably the most famous football player in Sweden.
Kimrin, who used to play in the NFL including for the Denver Broncos, connected a 43-yard kick between the bars, putting Sweden ahead 16-14, with 1:04 left in the third. Sweden held France's desperate offense in the final quarter and went on to win the first game of the tournament.
``In a tournament like this, the most important thing in a three-team pool is to win the first game,'' Sweden head coach B.D. Kennedy said. ``That feels good that we did that . It wasn't very pretty. That's all that we came to do.''
Sweden's next challenge will be much tougher than Tuesday. It will take on host Japan at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
``For us, this is our goal to be in a situation to play against Japan in a sold out arena here in Kawasaki,'' Kennedy said. ``Because Japan is the two-time defending champion, and if we want to be the champion, it's fitting. We should have to go through Japan to do it.''
Said Bjornehammar: ``Japan is really quick. They've got really quick players. But I'm not too sure Japan is going to be the winning team. When they go against us, I think we're going to be the winner.''