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Swiss meet French again next year in Germany

The draw for Germany 2006 speaks for itself

(RTS)

Switzerland have drawn France, Togo and South Korea in the finals of the World Cup football tournament in Germany next year.

The draw was made on Friday evening at a star-studded gala in the German city of Leipzig. An estimated 350 million television viewers worldwide watched the show.

The Swiss have once again been pitted against France, their big rivals in the tournament's group qualifying matches.

The two sides will meet on June 13 in Stuttgart in the first of the group G matches.

Switzerland play Togo in Dortmund on June 19 and meet South Korea in Hanover on June 23.

France are listed fifth in the world rankings of football's governing body, Fifa, with South Korea 29th, Switzerland 36th and Togo 56th.

Kuhn positive

Switzerland's national trainer Köbi Kuhn reacted positively to the outcome of the draw.

"France are OK. We know each other very well. We feel positive that we can come a round further in this group," he commented.

Former Swiss international referee Urs Meier told swissinfo it was a "really good draw for Switzerland", with many groups having much stronger teams than South Korea or Togo.

"For Switzerland, it's really an excellent group. Switzerland really have a chance to reach the next round with South Korea and Togo [as opponents]. Other groups are more difficult than this one."

He agreed that France would be the most difficult team to beat. But he said that the French were not unbeatable and that Switzerland's neighbours were not as strong as they used to be.

Every chance

"I think it's good for Switzerland to play France in their first game. Both teams know each other really well and I think it will be a good game. I'm sure Switzerland will have every chance to draw or perhaps win."

Meier also said that the South Koreans were not as formidable as they used to be.

"South Korea aren't as strong as they were three years ago when they were in their own country [in the last World Cup]. They don't have the same power as they did in 2002. But of course they are still one of the strongest teams in Asia."

If Switzerland manage to pass the first hurdle, they could possibly meet Spain or Ukraine from group H.

The opening match of the tournament sees hosts Germany taking on Costa Rica in Munich on June 9.

Exactly a month later the final will be held in the German capital, Berlin.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Switzerland qualified for the 2006 tournament after two play-offs against Turkey last month. The decisive factor was the away-goal rule.
The Swiss beat Turkey 2-0 in Bern in the first leg but lost the second tie in Istanbul 4-2 in a match that was marred by violent incidents.
These prompted Fifa to launch a disciplinary investigation that is expected to result in heavy sanctions against Turkey.

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In brief

Friday's draw in Leipzig puts Switzerland with France, South Korea and Togo in group G of the World Cup finals in Germany next year.

The tournament will be Switzerland's first World Cup appearance since 1994 in the United States. The team failed to qualify for France in 1998 and South Korea/Japan in 2002.

The Swiss have taken part in the World Cup finals seven times, reaching the quarter-finals in 1934, 1938 and 1954, the year the country was the organiser.

Switzerland is due to host the 2008 European Championships jointly with Austria.

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