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Vikings re-invade capital ahead of key World Cup qualifier against Sweden

THEY'RE tall and blonde – and that's just the beer.

Swedish booze was on sale in Dublin's Temple Bar to welcome hordes of invading football fans ahead of Ireland's World Cup qualifier.

Giovanni Trapattoni's men take on Sweden at a packed Aviva Stadium tonight in a match that will go a long way towards deciding who makes the play-offs.

Fans spent yesterday enjoying the atmosphere in the city's cultural quarter – and will do so again today.

It was billed as Temple Bar's first Scandinavian invasion in 1,000 years, and around 4,000 Swedes arrived for the match.


"Everyone is in a fantastic mood here and there is a great atmosphere. I think the Swedish are like the Irish in that we are just here to have a good time and there won't be any fighting or any trouble," said a confident Mirjam Appell (31) from Gothenburg, who has travelled all over the world to see Sweden play..

"Of course, I think we will win tomorrow. I'm a very confident person always. I've already started saving for Brazil next summer. I think 1-0 to Sweden," she said.

To mark the occasion, Swedish tour group, LA Travel, and the Temple Bar Company arranged a fan zone.

"Swedish Corner is set up at every game for all the fans," explained Ulf Kristenson, also from Gothenburg, who travelled with his wife Anette.

"It doesn't matter if it's Amsterdam, Berlin or wherever. It was set up at the European Championships when we were playing in Ukraine last summer. Five thousand people all meet up here in Swedish Corner and then we march together to the game. Do it every game and we will do the same tomorrow."

The Temple Bar Company's chief executive Martin Harte said it was not just about being good hosts. "In the year of The Gathering it's about spreading the word that Temple Bar and Dublin are great places to visit, while also strengthening relations with our Scandinavian friends," he said.

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Today's free outdoor events will include an arts and craft market as well as live performances by Swedish guitar duo George Nemeth and Christoffer Sjogren. DJ Staffan Gustafsson will also play popular Swedish tunes.

A live interview with Swedish football legend – and former Liverpool defender – Glenn Hysen has been arranged.

The connection between Temple Bar and Sweden stretches back over a millennium.

"Excavations at Wood Quay and in Temple Bar itself showed Viking settlements stretching back to between 800 AD and 1100 AD," the Temple Bar Company noted.

Events are to run from noon to 6pm today, with a live interview with Hysen taking place at 3pm on Crown Alley.

Much of Temple Bar will be closed to traffic and the streets are already decked out in the Swedish yellow and blue colours.

Meanwhile, the FAI announced the number of remaining tickets for the match was down to about 500.

It is expected to be sold out by this morning.

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