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Swiss face key football test without star players

Coach Enzo Trossero (left) puts the Swiss players through their paces before the Greece game Keystone

Switzerland face Greece on Wednesday in their first international football match under the new Argentinian coach, Enzo Trossero. It may be a friendly match but there is much at stake for both sides.

Trossero has been deprived of some of his star names for the match in St Gallen – a game he will use to size up his squad before the crucial World Cup qualifying campaign begins against Russia in Zurich in two weeks’ time.

Missing from the squad are two strikers, Stéphane Chapuisat and Kubilay Türkyilmaz, both injured, who have scored a total of 44 goals for Switzerland. Hakan Yakin and David Sesa are expected to fill the strikers’ slots.

Trossero will also be without key central defenders, Bernt Haas and Sébastien Fournier. But he has earmarked Patrick Müller (Lyon), Murat Yakin (Kaiserslautern) and Stéphane Henchoz (Liverpool) as his main defence line-up.

Trossero can also call on midfielders playing abroad. Johann Vogel (Eindhoven), Raphael Wicky (Werder Bremen) and Ciriaco Sforza (Bayern Munich) will fill the key midfield positions.

The coach has also made it clear he will make several substitutions during the game to test as many players as possible before the Russia match. For the first time, Badile Lubamba, a defender with Lugano, has been named in the Swiss squad.

In an interview with “Der Bund” on Tuesday, Trossero said the team would attack the Greeks and not put on a defensive display. He also said he would quit if Switzerland failed to qualify for the World Cup.

The match is also seen as a crucial warm-up for Greece. While Switzerland take on Russia on September 2 in the first qualifying match for the 2002 World Cup, Greece will tackle Germany, keen to make up for their miserable perfomance in the European championships.

Both Switzerland and Greece failed to make it beyond the qualifying rounds of the Euro 2000 championships. In both cases, failure led to a change of management.

It will be the ninth time Switzerland take on Greece on home ground. The Swiss have the better track record with five wins, two draws and only one defeat. On the last occasion they met, the two sides drew 1-1 in a friendly in Athens 16 months ago.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR