Swiss national football coach Köbi Kuhn has set his sights on qualifying from the group stages of this year's World Cup in Germany, he tells swissinfo.This content was published on May 2, 2006 - 08:06
Expectations are high among fans that Switzerland can at least match the achievements of previous teams as the country prepares for its eighth appearance in the prestigious tournament.
Switzerland reached the last 16 the last time they graced the World Cup finals in the United States in 1994, and advanced to the quarter-final stage three times in the days when there were fewer teams playing in the competition.
Kuhn believes the emergence of young players like Philippe Senderos and Valon Behrami is a good omen for the European Championships hosted jointly by Switzerland and Austria in two years time. And he thinks it is beneficial that so many players ply their trade abroad.
swissinfo: What target have you set the Swiss team for this year's World Cup?
Köbi Kuhn: I have made no secret of the fact that I want us to qualify from our group [containing France, Togo and South Korea] which means we must finish in one of the top two spots.
After that we will see what happens in the round of 16 because the knock-out stages are very hard to predict.
swissinfo: Many of the regular players are still very young, aren't they?
K.K: We have a lot of very talented youngsters playing in the first team at the moment who are doing very well and are becoming more experienced every game.
In addition, we have two or three younger players who are on the verge of breaking through to the senior squad and that bodes well for Euro 2008. It is a pleasure and privilege for me to work with this young talent.
swissinfo: Is it an advantage or a disadvantage that so many of your main players play outside Switzerland?
K.K: It is an advantage because they get to play in the strongest teams in the strongest leagues and the strongest competitions in Europe. It is a fantastic opportunity for them to improve their game and gain experience at the highest level.
It does appear that Switzerland's role at the moment is to produce young talent for the leagues of neighbouring countries, but that does not affect the national team negatively.
swissinfo: You must name your World Cup squad by May 15. Do you already know in your mind most of the players who will be going to Germany?
K.K: Yes I have a very good idea of who will be going because I have watched the team qualify for the World Cup and have been keeping an eye on other players too. But I will not reveal any names at the moment!
swissinfo-interview: Matthew Allen in Zurich
Switzerland qualified for the World Cup finals in November last year after securing second place in their group and beating Turkey in a dramatic and controversial two-legged play-off tie
The team kick off their World Cup campaign in Stuttgart on June 13 when they take on France, who they held to two draws in the qualifying stages
The average age of the Swiss squad that played Scotland in a friendly match in March was under 23
One player who will not make the trip to Germany is Benjamin Huggel, who was hit with a six match ban from world governing body Fifa, for his part in violent scenes after Switzerland's play-off tie against Turkey in Istanbul in November
Switzerland's past World Cup finals appearances:
1934 (in Italy): beaten 3:2 by Czechoslovakia in the quarter-finals
1938 (France): beaten 2:0 by Hungary in the quarter-finals
1950 (Brazil): failed to qualify from group stage
1954 (Switzerland): beaten 7:5 by Austria in the quarter-finals
1962 (Chile): failed to qualify from group stage
1966 (England): failed to qualify from group stage
1994 (US): beaten 3:0 by Spain in round of 16
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