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Swiss not banking on World Cup miracle

Swiss striker Alex Frei will be helping out the Under-21s in Russia

(Keystone Archive)

Many of Switzerland's top football stars have been left out of the squad for next month's final World Cup qualifying match in Russia. Although mathematically the Swiss could still qualify for next year's finals, it would now take a myriad of miracles for them to do so.

As well as having to beat their hosts in Moscow, Köbi Kuhn's men would have to rely on some highly improbable results elsewhere.

Slovenia, who could still pip Russia to top spot in the group, would have to suffer a home defeat at the hands of the tiny Faroe Islands, while Yugoslavia would have to be held to at least a draw by a Luxembourg side which is yet to take a single point from the campaign.

Judging by the squad named by Kuhn on Wednesday, the Swiss football association has clearly decided that the cause is indeed hopeless.

Acrimonious

Liverpool defender Stéphane Henchoz and Grasshoppers Zurich striker Stéphane Chapuisat have not been recalled following their acrimonious departure from the squad in the aftermath of the Yugoslavia defeat.

Fabrice Borer and Jörg Stiel will battle it out for the goalkeeper's jersey, after Marco Pascolo's decision earlier this month to retire from the national team, while a knee injury has also ruled out any participation by veteran forward Kubilay Türkyilmaz.

Kuhn frees up Frei

While the latest squad announcement suggests that Kuhn is now looking at the team's mid-term future, the coach has also agreed to do without one of the country's most promising young players.

Servette striker Alex Frei, who has scored four goals in four starts for Switzerland, is set to make a temporary return to the national under-21 side which will travel to Russia with much higher hopes than the seniors.

Currently leading Russia by a point in the chase for a European Championship spot, the Swiss juniors can make sure of their berth with either a win or a draw.

Swiss squad for Russia match (October 6):

Goalkeepers: Fabrice Borer (Sion), Jörg Stiel (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

Defenders: Bruno Berner (Grasshoppers), Bernt Haas (Sunderland), Giuseppe Mazzarelli (Bari), Patrick Müller (Lyon), Yvan Quentin (FC Zurich), Murat Yakin (Basel), Marc Zellweger (St Gallen)

Midfielders: Alexandre Comisetti (Servette), Francesco Di Jorio (St Gallen), Sébastien Fournier (Servette), Johann Lonfat (Servette), David Sesa (Napoli), Ciriaco Sforza (Bayern Munich), Johann Vogel (PSV Eindhoven)

Forwards: Blaise N'Kufo (Mainz), Hakan Yakin (Basel)


by Mark Ledsom with agencies


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