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Veterans quit Swiss national football team

Stéphane Chapuisat was not a happy man after Switzerland's 2-1 defeat against Yugoslavia Keystone

Two of the national football team's veteran players, Stéphane Chapuisat and Stéphane Henchoz, have quit the side after being left on the benches in Saturday's match against Yugoslavia. Both men left after speaking to trainer Köbi Kuhn on Monday.

The departures come as Switzerland prepares to face Luxembourg on Wednesday. Both players said their resignations had more to do with the way they had been treated than because they had not been selected.

They said Kuhn informed the players of the team’s makeup without giving any reasons for excluding certain players. “I can accept not being selected,” said Henchoz. “But I can’t accept the decision without some kind of explanation. I was shocked by Kuhn’s manners.”

Henchoz had already made up his mind to leave the leave by Sunday afternoon. “I thought Kuhn was counting on me,” said the Liverpool defender. “He didn’t say anything to me all week, so I was very surprised by his decision.”

Chapuisat was angry that he was not sent on to the field until the last 15 minutes of the Yugoslavia match, and feels it isn’t necessary for him to travel to Luxembourg with the team.

“When Kuhn doesn’t need me against Yugoslavia, he doesn’t need me for a match against Luxembourg with nothing to play for,” said the Grasshoppers player. “I’ll let the younger strikers show what they can do without being under pressure.”

Chapuisat and Henchoz have not turned their backs on the national side permanently though. “Whether we work together in the future depends on the trainer,” said Henchoz. “He will have to come and get me though.”

Observers are already saying the much-vaunted new team spirit has begun to crumble after Saturday’s defeat, which saw Switzerland lose its last chance of qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Japan and Korea.

Trainer Köbi Kuhn doesn’t believe he has lost the players’ support or his credibility though.

“I hope the rest of the team has been strengthened by these departures,” said Kuhn. “A family stays intact despite misfortunes and differences of opinion.”

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