Croatia and Sweden are deeply concerned ahead of World Cup qualifier

Croatia and Sweden have injury concerns ahead of Saturday's World Cup qualifier between the leading teams in Group 8.

Sweden coach Lars Lagerback is bedridden with the flu, while at least five regular players - including standout strikers Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrik Larsson and Fredrik Ljungberg - remain doubtful with leg injuries.

Croatia captain Niko Kovac, who has an eye virus, is also in question alongside winger Dario Srna, who has a fractured hand.

The top team in each of the eight European groups advance automatically to the 2006 tournament in Germany. The two best second-place teams also go through, with the remaining six teams playing off for three spots.

The Swedes lead the group on 21 points and host lowly Iceland on Wednesday in their final match. Croatia is a point adrift, but faces third-place Hungary in Budapest in its last match.

Although Sweden is unbeaten in 15 qualifying matches on the road, Croatia remains the only undefeated home team in Europe going into Saturday's match in Zagreb.

The Croats have not lost in 27 European or World Cup qualifying matches on their turf since they began playing UEFA and FIFA competitions in 1994.

Kranjcar is still uncertain about his front line and whether to field Werder Bremen's Ivan Klasnic or FC Brugge's Bosko Balaban alongside Glasgow Rangers forward Dado Prso.

Klasnic and Balaban have been in form for their clubs, but Klasnic, who has yet to make an impact in the national team, is likely to be chosen.

Ibrahimovic's injury is perhaps most the disconcerting for Lagerback.

Ibrahimovic was carried off the field following a reckless tackle by Inter Milan's Marco Materazzi at the weekend. He was still suffering pain in his knee and will reportedly arrive in Zagreb from Turin having missed his team's preparations in the Austrian capital, Vienna.

FC Barcelona striker Larsson walked out of training Wednesday also citing pain in his knee, the AP reports.

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