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Spectacular show and goals open World Cup

Pele and German model Claudia Schiffer present the coveted trophy Keystone

The 2006 football World Cup kicked off in Munich with a colourful opening ceremony and a 4-2 victory by the hosts Germany against Costa Rica in the first match.

This content was published on June 9, 2006 - 20:37

Switzerland are among the 32 teams competing in the month-long event - making only their eighth appearance in the history of the tournament.

The German president, Horst Köhler, officially opened the World Cup in Munich's 59,000 capacity stadium on Friday.

The Brazilian legend, Pele, winner of the World Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970, carried the World Cup trophy onto the pitch.

He was one of more than 150 stars and celebrities, including Switzerland's Joseph Blatter, president of the world football's governing body Fifa, and Franz Beckenbauer, head of the organising committee of the 2006 World Cup.

In the opening match of the tournament the hosts Germany beat outsiders Costa Rica 4-2 with three goals in the first 17 minutes of the match.

An estimated one and a half billion people across the world watched the opening of the tournament on television.

The event will culminate in the final in the capital, Berlin, on July 9.

Brazil are the favourites according to bookmakers, with England and Germany close behind.

Swiss team

The Swiss side are not among the top teams, but their manager Köbi Kuhn said he hoped to get beyond the initial group stage of the tournament and make it to the last 16.

Switzerland are scheduled to play their first match on Tuesday against 1998 champions France. The two other teams in the group are South Korea and Togo.

The Swiss last played at a World Cup in the United States in 1994 when they went out against Spain.

The Swiss squad features a number of young and talented players, including Philippe Senderos who plays for London's Arsenal, and seasoned players such as Johann Vogel from Milan and keeper Pascal Zuberbühler. The top scorer in the team is Alex Frei.

Training camp

Switzerland provided a temporary home for several top football teams in the run-up to the tournament in neighbouring Germany.

World champions Brazil spent two weeks in the village of Weggis in central Switzerland attracting tens of thousands of spectators and journalists to the training sessions.

Football fever also gripped consumers and companies launched a series of special products of tie-ins with the World Cup.

Thousands of restaurants and pubs across Switzerland have put up big screens in an effort to pull the crowds.

swissinfo

In brief

Switzerland qualified for the World Cup finals in November last year after securing second place in their group, behind France, and beating Turkey in a dramatic and controversial two-legged play-off tie.

The 32 countries that made the finals in Germany are split into eight groups of four teams. The top two teams of each group will qualify for the first knock-out stage, starting on June 24.

This year's World Cup will be Switzerland's eighth appearance in the history of the tournament.

They reached the quarter-final stage in 1934, 1938 and 1954 - the year Switzerland hosted the competition.

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Key facts

The 2006 World Cup takes place in Germany between June 9 – July 9.
It's the biggest sporting event in the world.
Switzerland is one of 32 teams taking part in the tournament.

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