Switzerland’s footballers have drawn a “fantastic opening match” against England in their campaign to qualify for Euro 2012, held in Poland and Ukraine.
The match, to be played in Switzerland on September 7, is one of eight qualifying games – four at home and four away – Switzerland will play. Their other Group G opponents are Bulgaria, Wales and Montenegro.
Switzerland’s final match is at home against Montenegro on October 11, 2011.
“That’s a fantastic opening match,” said Switzerland’s German coach Ottmar Hitzfeld on Thursday. “England is a great footballing nation. I’m already looking forward to this match. We wanted England as our first opponents, but would have preferred to play at Wembley.”
Fifty-one countries participated in the draw, which was conducted by four famous names from Polish and Ukrainian football.
On paper, England are Group G favourites, currently ranked eighth in Fifa’s world rankings, with Switzerland second (ranked 15th), followed by Bulgaria (30th), Montenegro (71st) and Wales (76th). On the field, however, upsets are not uncommon.
The nine group winners and the runner-up with the best record against the top five sides in their pool qualify directly for the final tournament, the last before the championship is expanded to 24 teams. The eight remaining runners-up go into play-off matches in November 2011 to decide the final four sides to join the two co-hosts.
swissinfo.ch and agencies