The Swiss striker David Sesa has definitely been ruled out of Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Russia after failing a late medical.This content was published on August 1, 2000 - 09:58
Sesa banged his head at the weekend while training with his Italian club side, Napoli. The resulting wound required seven stitches, and the player is still suffering the after-effects of a slight concussion.
Swiss coach Enzo Trossero is now facing a giant headache of his own. He is already having to do without the services of first choice strikers Stéphane Chapuisat and Kubilay Turkyilmaz, who have also been forced out with injuries.
Goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbühler was also forced to withdraw from the squad after picking up a leg injury while playing in the German Bundesliga. Trossero must now hope that replacement keeper Marco Pascolo can reproduce the form he showed in helping Switzerland qualify for the 1996 World Cup.
The likely candidates to lead the Swiss attack will have no such experience to draw on. Trossero is expected to play Hakan Yakin as a lone striker, supported by Ricardo Cabanas in an attacking midfield role. Yakin has played just four times for Switzerland, while Cabanas has yet to make his international debut.
Trossero might find some consolation in the state of the Russian squad. It too is lacking in firepower, with the Russian league's leading goalscorer Dimitri Loskov out injured.
Alexandre Panov has been unable to hold onto a regular place in the St Etienne side, while the late start to the Spanish season means Racing Santander's Vladimir Beschastnykh is also lacking in match practice.
Nevertheless the Russians are likely to present Trossero with a difficult challenge in his first competitive game as Swiss manager. Strictly speaking, the two countries have only played each other once during a 1997 friendly in Hong Kong.
But as well as that match (which Switzerland lost 2-1), the Swiss were paired against the former Soviet Union seven times, failing to win a single match. The two sides have been drawn against each other just once before in World Cup qualifying. Following a draw in Berne, the Swiss were hammered 4-0 in Moscow.
If Trossero's men fail to end this run of bad results against the Russians, it would hardly be fatal to their World Cup chances. But with difficult ties to come against Slovenia and Yugoslavia, Switzerland's makeshift side will be keen to secure all three points by any means necessary.
swissinfo with agencies
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