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Switzerland upbeat for Slovenia challenge

The Swiss team celebrate after beating the Faroe Islands Keystone

Switzerland's 5-1 win over the Faroe Islands in Saturday's World Cup qualifying match has given the country's newspapers and the players themselves plenty of confidence ahead of Wednesday's visit to Slovenia.

After conceding a shock goal in the first four minutes of Saturday’s match, Switzerland recovered well to eventually beat their amateur opponents with ease. Defenders Marco Zwyssig and Sébastien Fournier began the Swiss fightback, before Kubilay Türkyilmaz scored a hat trick of penalties to kill off the tie.

After noting that four of the Swiss goals had come from dead ball opportunities, the French language newspaper Le Matin suggested that the team still has work to do. But the paper said the side had shown enough potential to make winning in Slovenia a realistic aim.

The SonntagsBlick and the SonntagsZeitung newspapers were both impressed by the performance of Türkyilmaz who had not played for the national side in more than a year. “Kubi’s great comeback show”, screamed the SonntagsBlick’s headline.

But the tabloid also expressed some reservations about the team’s finishing. “In the last half hour particularly, the Swiss could have scored another two or three goals,” the paper insisted, warning that Switzerland’s chances of qualifying for the 2002 finals could yet depend upon goal difference.

After pointing out that Saturday had seen the first snow falling in the Swiss mountains, the SonntagsZeitung felt that the national side had spent the start of the match in hibernation. But it too saw much to praise in the team’s comeback from 1-0 down.

“An in-form Türkyilmaz scoring goals, a captain in Ciriaco Sforza leading with his feet as well as with his mouth, a Stéphane Fournier as involved with the attack as with the defence – all these things will be wished for on Wednesday in Ljubljana.”

The Swiss manager Enzo Trossero was no less happy with the performance, particularly after his team had suffered from such an “unbelievably” bad start.

“I didn’t believe it was possible to start a match so terribly”, he admitted in the post-match press conference. “But I was pleased with the way the team turned it around.”

“It’s never easy to win by four goals at an international level”, he continued. “I think the team played a good match, showing strong concentration, speed and a lot of courage after that start.”

After completing his second international match, Switzerland’s Congo-born defender Badile Lubamba was also in a confident mood.

“It’s not easy after letting in an early goal,” he told swissinfo. “But we reacted quickly, and that bodes well for the future. As for Wednesday, Slovenia are a super team but I think the way we have played against the Faroe Islands shows that we can win in Ljubljana if we are motivated enough.”

While the Swiss team will be relying on the exuberance and energy of Lubamba on Wednesday, they will be without the experience of Stéphane Henchoz after the Liverpool defender picked up his second yellow card in two matches.

Henchoz shares Lubamba’s belief that a win in Slovenia is possible, but insists that a draw may be satisfactory.

“We know Slovenia are very strong, as they proved at Euro 2000”, he told swissinfo. “Playing away against such a good team, we’d be happy just to get a point. But of course we’d like to come away with all three.”

A win on Wednesday could see Switzerland leap above Slovenia to head the Group One table. But with Russia and Yugoslavia both having played one game less than the Swiss, a clear picture is not likely to emerge until the summer.

by Mark Ledsom

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR