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Chapuisat and Yakin to lead Swiss attack

Trossero's men go through their final preparations in Belgrade's Partizan stadium

(Keystone)

Switzerland football coach Enzo Trossero has named his team for Saturday's crucial World Cup qualifying match against Yugoslavia. The Swiss attack will be led by the relatively untested international partnership of Hakan Yakin and Stéphane Chapuisat.

As former Grasshoppers Zurich team-mates, Chapuisat and Yakin are far from being strangers on the pitch. But at an international level, the two strikers have only twice featured on the same teamsheet.

Chapuisat is clearly the most experienced of the two players - Saturday's match will see the 30-year-old forward pulling on the Swiss shirt for the 82nd time. Yakin, who now plays for FC Basel, has so far made just eight appearances for Switzerland.

"We don't know how we'll play together," an unfazed Chapuisat told swissinfo shortly before the team's departure for Belgrade, "but we'll soon find out. I think a good player should be able to play with any other player. It shouldn't be a problem."

The choice of two strikers suggests that Trossero has decided on a more attacking strategy than previously expected. His original intention of playing Kubilay Türkyilmaz as a lone forward was scuppered when the Lugano forward announced his retirement from the international set-up.

At the other end of the field, Trossero has paired Patrick Müller with Stéphane Henchoz in central defence, at the expense of Glasgow Celtic defender Ramon Vega. St Gallen's Marc Zellweger and FC Zurich's Yvan Quentin will complete a four-man back line.

Trossero's 4-4-2 formation is completed by a midfield comprising Massimo Lombardo, Johann Vogel, Sébastien Fournier and Johann Lonfat. Marco Pascolo has held on to his place in goal, after being generally blameless during last month's 4-0 friendly defeat by Poland last month.

With Switzerland less than halfway through the World Cup qualifying process, Saturday's match will not decide for sure whether the team should book their tickets for the finals in Japan and South Korea. However a defeat in Belgrade would see the Swiss drop to fourth place in the six-team table and make their qualification mission not impossible but certainly highly improbable.

Drawing with or even beating Yugoslavia is of course the team's stated aim but that clearly won't be easy against a side currently ranked tenth in the world and fresh from their success at reaching the quarter-finals of last summer's European Championships.

On Friday, Switzerland's under-21 side gave the seniors a possible lesson in how to approach Saturday's match. Kobi Kuhn's side pulled off a creditable 3-3 draw over the Yugoslav juniors with one goal from Johan Meier and two from Allain Grecco.

by Mark Ledsom


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