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Swiss footballers face Tunisian test

Trossero (right) relaxes with his players at Tunisia airport

(Keystone)

Switzerland's national football team will be looking to end the year with a positive balance on Wednesday, when they play in a friendly match against Tunisia.

Under coach Enzo Trossero and his temporary predecessor Hans-Peter Zaugg, the Swiss have recorded two wins and two defeats this year, with four matches ending in draws.

Discounting the friendly matches, Switzerland's World Cup qualifying campaign has also been evenly balanced, with Trossero presiding over a win against the Faroe Islands, a draw in Slovenia and a defeat at home to Russia.

Critics have been quick to point out though that the amateurs of the Faroe Islands are easily the weakest team in the qualifying group, while the 2-2 draw away to Slovenia came after Switzerland had led 1-0 and 2-1 against a side reduced to ten men.

Wednesday's match in Tunis will see Trossero's side taking on opponents who are currently six places higher than the Slovenians in football's world rankings.

The FIFA ranking system, which places Tunisia 26th and Switzerland 61st, is not considered particularly accurate, but the North African side's position does reflect the growing stature of teams from the African continent.

As well as being among Africa's leading football nations, along with the likes of South Africa, Nigeria and Cameroon, Tunisia boasts a strong domestic league. Last weekend saw one of the country's top sides, Espérance Tunis, book their place in the final of the African Champions' Cup.

Experience of foreign leagues has also played a part in the success of the Tunisian side with three of the national side's biggest stars playing their club football in Germany. SC Fribourg striker Adel Sellimi is the only one of the three set to play against Switzerland.

Tunisia's Italian coach Francesco Scoglio has also called up defender José Clayton, who plays in Italy with Bastia, and Hadra Khaled of Turkish side Denizlispor.

Injury problems have again affected Enzo Trossero's selections. St Gallen goalkeeper Jörg Stiel has taken the place of regular reserve keeper Marco Pascolo, who is not yet a hundred percent fit.

Grasshoppers striker Stéphane Chapuisat played his first club game in three weeks on Sunday, but has been given more time to recover by Trossero.

With Chapuisat's strike-partner Kubilay Türkyilmaz also missing out, the Swiss coach has looked to the country's youth, naming Basel's teenage striker André Muff and 23-year-old Grasshoppers forward Hakan Yakin in his 18-man squad.

A Swiss win on Wednesday might be seen as a good omen for the coming year. Seven years ago, in the only previous meeting between the two sides, Switzerland were also suffering from a striker shortage.

But under the management of Roy Hodgson the Swiss team grabbed a 1-0 friendly victory in Tunis with a goal from Adrian Knup, before going on to qualify for the 1994 World Cup finals.

swissinfo with agencies









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