Switzerland have vowed to erase the memory of losing in the last 16 during their last World Cup appearance 12 years ago by beating Ukraine in Cologne on Monday.This content was published on June 26, 2006 - 11:35
Captain Johann Vogel told swissinfo the current team entertain no thoughts of returning home this early and have set their sights on reaching the quarter-finals in Germany at least.
The Swiss were stopped in their tracks by a 3-0 defeat against Spain in the first knockout stage in the United States in 1994. But Vogel is confident that won't happen again.
"Nobody thinks the adventure will stop now and we are still hungry to progress in the tournament," he said.
"We usually make a point of only thinking about our next game and not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but the way to the semi-final appears to be possible."
Switzerland have never played Ukraine, but Köbi Kuhn's men made short work of Togo and South Korea when they faced them for the first time ever in the group stages.
One player who is aware of the threat posed by many Ukrainian players is Mauro Lustrinelli, who played two games against Dynamo Kiev last season for FC Thun in their Champions League qualifying matches. Ukraine have seven Dynamo Kiev players in their squad.
"I have very fond memories of the games against Dynamo because Thun beat them and I scored two goals. That is a very positive sign for me," he told swissinfo.
"But I expect Ukraine to play a different system. Dynamo always played with a rigid formation, but Ukraine mix up their tactics and have a range of players who can adapt to different formations during a game."
The Swiss have the best defensive record so far in the tournament and were the only team to keep a clean sheet in all three group matches. The biggest threat to keeping this record intact comes from Ukraine's star striker Andriy Shevchenko.
Switzerland's hopes of smothering Shevchenko were dealt a blow when defender Philippe Senderos was forced back home after dislocating his shoulder against South Korea.
The responsibility of marking Ukraine's danger man may now fall to Johan Djourou, who at 19 is the youngest member of the Swiss squad.
"I think I have shown in the past that I have the quality to play at this level and now I am very happy that I have the opportunity to prove that again in the World Cup," he told swissinfo. "I am very relaxed and I don't feel any extra burden of responsibility on my shoulders."
He added: "Shevchenko is obviously a great player, but you have to show him that you are not scared or you will make it easy for him."
Djourou has so far appeared as a substitute in the games against France and South Korea. He believes that Switzerland's defensive record has given the team a huge boost.
"It's very good for our morale because it shows that we have a good defence, great team spirit and we are working for each other," he said. "All the games so far have been hard so we are going to have stay focused to keep our record intact."
swissinfo, Matthew Allen in Cologne
In the group stages, Switzerland drew 0-0 with France, beat Togo 2-0 and defeated South Korea with the same result. Ukraine recovered from a 4-0 opening game loss against Spain to beat Saudi Arabia by the same scoreline and sealed qualification with a 1-0 win over Tunisia.
Ukraine's most feared player is 2004 European Player of the Year Andriy Shevchenko who has netted 31 times in 67 international appearances, including two strikes at the World Cup.
Coach Oleg Blochin was a prolific striker for the USSR and was himself crowned European Player of the Year in 1975. He is also a parliamentarian in Ukraine and is not receiving a salary for his coaching role as Ukrainian law excludes him from holding two official functions simultaneously.
Switzerland finished top of Group G after accumulating seven points in their three games, scoring four times and keeping three clean sheets.
Prior to this World Cup Switzerland had conceded at least one goal in all of their previous 22 games – an anenviable tournament record.
Each Swiss player earned a cool SFr75,000 ($60,000) bonus for sealing qualification together with SFr15,000 for picking up three points against South Korea. They will collect an extra SFr85,000 if they reach the quarter-final stage.
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