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Swiss handball squad looks forward to clash against Ukraine

Switzerland beat Ukraine at home 20-17 on the 3rd of June.

(Keystone)

The Swiss handball team is set to take on Ukraine in a crucial world championship play-off match in Saporoshje on Saturday. The game against Ukraine could clinch Switzerland's entry to the 2001 World Championships in France.

Switzerland enters the clash in a very strong position, having accumulated points from their 20-17 home win against Ukraine. Even if they lose by a three goal difference and score at least 17 goals they will still qualify for the play-off finals.

However, if the Swiss come away with the same result as their last encounter with the Ukrainians, a penalty shoot-out would decide who will be in France next year.
But as the Ukrainians are famed for their strong performances before a home crowd, they are likely to score more than 20 goals.

Switzerland's past record of qualifying for the world championships is not very strong. Six times since a qualification system was introduced did the Swiss squad fail to make it to World and European Championships.

Handball pundits are also keen to point out that although Switzerland's has points in reserve from its win against Ukraine, it is far from certain that Switzerland will sail through to the championships. A little over a year ago, the Swiss had a nine goal lead over Iceland after a home win but lost to their hosts by the same margin and failed to make it to the European Championships.

But the Swiss coach, Mr Mühlethaler, said, "A disappointment comparable with Iceland isn't on the cards. In any case, the team has gained a lot in stability and stature since then."

swissinfo with agencies


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