The Swiss have notched up a tense but vital win against a tenacious Togolese team, leaving them needing a draw on Friday to qualify to the last 16.This content was published on June 19, 2006 - 16:56
The result, which follows the draw of group rivals France and South Korea last night, means a win against South Korea will see Switzerland qualify as group leaders.
Goals from Alex Frei in the 16th minute and Tranquillo Barnetta in the 88th ended Togo's tournament but sent the thousands of Swiss fans wild.
Frei, from French team Rennes, scored Switzerland's first goal of the World Cup after 16 minutes. After a terrific run down the left, Ludovic Magnin crossed to Barnetta, unmarked at the far post, who passed the ball to Frei who nudged it in from three metres.
Two minutes from the final whistle, Mauro Lustrinelli, who had just come on as a replacement for Frei (later named Man of the Match), teed up Barnetta at the edge of the box and the midfielder picked his spot well at the far post.
Switzerland were heavy favourites going into the match and dominated possession throughout it, but the Togolese team, plagued by disruptions and arguments off the pitch, certainly created good chances on it and exposed the Swiss defence on several occasions.
Indeed the Togolese were unlucky to be denied a blatant penalty in the 33rd minute when Patrick Müller clearly tripped Adebayor.
Swiss coach Köbi Kuhn chose Daniel Gygax, an offensive midfielder, in preference to striker Marco Streller, who performed below expectations in Switzerland's opening 0-0 draw with France.
Swiss favourite Hakan Yakin, a midfield playmaker, replaced Gygax at half-time, and Streller did eventually come on for the last quarter of an hour.
German-born Togo coach Otto Pfister turned to relative unknowns to fill the void left by suspended captain Jean-Paul Abalo and injured defender Ludovic Assemoassa.
Kuami Agboh, who has had four caps and plays for Belgium's Beveren, was in the starting 11 along with Bayer Leverkusen's Assimiou Touré. Both came on as replacements in Togo's opening 2-1 loss to South Korea.
After the match Kuhn said he was delighted with the result and that his team had showed a lot of spirit, although he admitted that they did not make the most of the space they had been given by Togo.
All eyes turn now to the two final matches in Group G, both played at 9pm local time on Friday. Togo face France and Switzerland take on the South Koreans.
If Switzerland beat South Korea, Switzerland will qualify top of their group – no matter what happens between France and Togo – and face the runners-up in Group H.
If Switzerland lose against South Korea, South Korea will qualify in first place and Switzerland will qualify in second place unless France beat Togo, in which case France will qualify in second place and Switzerland will be on the plane home.
It gets somewhat trickier if Switzerland draw with South Korea. In this case, if France do not beat Togo, Switzerland will qualify in first position and South Korea in second.
If Switzerland and South Korea draw and France do beat Togo, the final group placings will depend first of all on goal difference and then the number of goals scored. France are not necessarily through even if they beat Togo.
In one of the most interesting permutations, if Switzerland and South Korea draw 1-1 and France beat Togo "only" 2-0, Switzerland and France will have exactly the same statistics and lots will have to be drawn by World Cup organisers to see who goes through in first place and who goes through in second.
It will be simplest for everyone if Switzerland win on Friday.
swissinfo, Thomas Stephens
Final Group G matches on Friday June 23:
Switzerland-South Korea: 9pm, Hanover
Togo-France: 9pm, Cologne
Group G table on Monday June 19:
Switzerland – played twice, four points, two goals scored and none conceded;
South Korea – played twice, four points, three goals scored and two conceded;
France – played twice, two points, one goal scored, one conceded;
Togo – played twice, no points, one goal scored and four conceded.
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