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Swiss handballers prepare for showdown with Ukraine

Switzerland's handball team will play three friendly internationals in the next four days, in preparation for next month's World Championship playoff matches against Ukraine.

The countdown to the playoffs - described by the national association as the most important games in almost fifteen years - began in earnest last Thursday.

Just ten days after the league championship finals between Suhr and Schaffhausen, the Swiss coach, Urs Mühlethaler, organised the first training session in Magglingen. Nine members of the national squad were involved in the finals.

This weekend's friendly action will see the Swiss take on Norway twice, on Friday and Saturday, followed by a match against Germany in Freudenstadt on Monday.

The provisional squad includes all the players who featured in Switzerland's successful group campaign for the first stage of qualification. On Monday evening the squad will be reduced to sixteen players.

Mühlethaler insists he is not concerned about the results of the friendly games.

"Our priority in the games against Norway will be to rediscover our international rhythm," he said. "We don't have to worry about the scoreline. But it's important to put our training into practice, and to work according to our tactics."

swissinfo with agencies