Switzerland's national soccer coach, Köbi Kuhn, has left former regular Hakan Yakin out of his 23-man squad for next month's football World Cup in Germany.This content was published on May 15, 2006 - 17:55
The controversial decision is likely to cause widespread media coverage because Yakin had shown strong performances in the last few games of the season for his club, Young Boys of Bern.
However, the 29-year-old midfield player, who has played 44 times for Switzerland and scored 14 goals, missed much of the past season with a groin injury and there had been doubts about his form.
"Yakin is a talented player but we have a lot of other talented players to choose from," Kuhn told a news conference after naming his squad.
"I watched his last couple of games and could see how much he improved under the pressure, but I also have to think of the life of the team and I think there are some question marks over him in that regard."
Kuhn, who has not been able to select Yakin in the last five national games because of injury, has included him on a list of five standby players he can call on in the event of late injury.
The popular trainer has put emphasis on youth in his squad, which has an average age of 24.8. Seven players have fewer than five caps.
Arsenal's 19-year-old defender Johan Djourou is the youngest in the squad, with Basel goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbühler the oldest at 35.
Zuberbühler has been given the number one shirt despite media criticism for "blunders" between the posts.
Kuhn said his decision did not necessarily mean that "Zubi", as Basel fans affectionately know him, would start in Switzerland's opening match against France.
"I know several coaches have announced their number one goalkeeper, but that is not how I do things," he said.
"I will name my team on the day of the match as usual. It's interesting to know that France have chosen Barthez over Coupet in goal but it's not going to change our tactics drastically."
Kuhn is putting his faith in several players who have been plagued by injury this season, including top scorer Alex Frei, striker Marco Streller and midfield player Raphaël Wicky of Hamburg.
All three are to train this week with the Swiss under-21 team, which play Belgium on Thursday, before joining the senior squad the following Monday.
Switzerland have been drawn against 1998 world champions France, South Korea and Togo in Group G of the tournament.
Goalkeepers: 1-Pascal Zuberbühler (Basel), 21-Fabio Coltorti (Grasshoppers Zurich), 12-Diego Benaglio (Nacional Madeira)
Defenders: 2-Johan Djourou (Arsenal), 3-Ludovic Magnin (Stuttgart), 4-Philippe Senderos (Arsenal), 13-Stéphane Grichting (Auxerre), 17-Christoph Spycher (Eintracht Frankfurt), 19-Valon Behrami (Lazio), 20-Patrick Müller (Olympique Lyon), 23-Philipp Degen (Borussia Dortmund)
Midfield: 5-Xavier Margairaz (Zurich), 6-Johann Vogel (AC Milan), 7-Ricardo Cabanas (Cologne), 8-Raphaël Wicky (Hamburg), 10-Daniel Gygax (Lille), 14-David Degen (Basel), 15-Blerim Dzemaili (Zurich), 16-Tranquillo Barnetta (Bayer Leverkusen)
Forwards: 9-Alex Frei (Rennes), 11-Marco Streller (Cologne), 18-Mauro Lustrinelli (Sparta Prague), 22-Johan Vonlanthen (Breda)
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Switzerland in the World Cup:
1934 in Italy: Beaten 3-2 by Czechoslovakia in the quarter-finals
1938 in France: Defeated 2-0 by Hungary in the quarter-finals
1950 in Brazil: Eliminated in the group stage
1954 in Switzerland: Defeated 7-5 by Austria in the quarter-finals
1962 in Chile: Eliminated in the group stage
1966 in England: Eliminated in the group stage
1994 in the United States: Defeated 3-0 by Spain in the last 16.
In the qualifying matches for this year's World Cup finals in Germany, Switzerland played in group matches against France, Israel, Ireland, Cyprus and the Faroe Islands.
Switzerland came second in the group behind France, which resulted in play-offs with Turkey.
Switzerland qualified after winning 2-0 at home, but lost 4-2 in Turkey in a match that was marred with violent scenes at the end.
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