Switzerland's ice hockey coach Ralph Krueger says his team are fully prepared and full of confidence for the start of the world championships in Germany this weekend.This content was published on April 27, 2001 - 16:56
After a series of warm-up matches which included two wins over Norway and an impressive 6-2 triumph over the United States, Krueger told swissinfo he was more than satisfied with the team's preparations.
"We don't have to worry too much about the hockey side of things now. Our game is ready and we're all set to go. The last couple of days have all been about adjusting to the new environment - hotels, rinks, food and travel. But the team's come smoothly through this transition, and we feel good about the way we're going to play."
Krueger said that his immediate target was to match his team's achievements of the last three years by at least reaching the tournament's quarter-finals. By describing the current Swiss team as the best yet, Krueger is also well aware that he's raised expectations back home.
"I enjoy doing that," he laughed. "I want to dream up high, not make predictions to push the team down, saying we're happy to be 14th or something. We're here to try and win the world championships, otherwise there's no point being here."
"We believe our team has got better and so we're going to talk about it," Krueger continued. "The expectations are high, but that's what I enjoy about this job."
Switzerland's bid for world championship glory should begin in dramatic fashion on Saturday when Krueger's men line-up against their German hosts in the tournament's opening match. Europe's biggest ice stadium, the imposing Cologne Arena, is bound to generate plenty of atmosphere with a sell-out crowd of 18,500 expected.
With Belarus and world champions the Czech Republic also in Switzerland's group, a win over Germany could prove vital to Swiss hopes. Krueger, who himself played more than 50 international matches for Germany, insisted that complacency wouldn't be an issue on Saturday even after the team's impressive warm-up programme.
"We have a lot of experience in this side now, with 65 national games on average in this lineup and they know what it's all about. They know that the games up to now didn't give us any points. So I don't think complacency will be a problem and the atmosphere here will really help push everyone forwards."
by Mark Ledsom, Cologne
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