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Swiss shuffle defences for Slovenian showdown

Swiss coach Enzo Trossero (centre) briefs the team at a stadium in Ljubljana

(Keystone)

Switzerland's national football coach Enzo Trossero has made three changes to the team's line-up ahead of Wednesday's World Cup qualifying match in Slovenia.

Trossero has been forced to find a replacement for Stéphane Henchoz after the Liverpool fullback picked up his second yellow card in a row during Saturday's 5-1 win over the Faroe Islands. Former St Gallen defender Giuseppe Mazzarelli, now playing in Italy's Serie A for Bari, has been brought in to fill the gap.

Another expected change to the defence sees Badile Lubamba relegated to the bench following a disappointing performance on Saturday by the Lugano player. Marc Zellweger will take his place as right back in what will be the St Gallen defender's first game for Switzerland.

In midfield Trossero has decided to replace Napoli's David Sesa with Raphaël Wicky. The Swiss coach believes Wicky's more defensive style of play will be needed to combat a strong Slovenian left flank, which includes former Lugano player Mladen Rudonja.

Following the defeat to Russia and the win over the Faroe Islands, the Swiss are currently fourth in their six-team group. A convincing win over Slovenia could put Trossero's men top, although group favourites Russia and Yugoslavia will still have games in hand.

However the Slovenians are sure to present a much greater challenge than the amateurs of the Faroe Islands. An independent state for just over eight years, Slovenia's development in football terms has been rapid and was capped by the side's surprise involvement in this year's European Championships.

After edging a 2-1 away win over Luxembourg at the weekend, Slovenian coach Srecko Katanec is expected to revert to a two-man attack for the game against Switzerland. And that could see two more familiar faces lining up against the makeshift Swiss defences.

Servette striker Ermin Siljak is likely to be joined in the Slovenian frontline by former Berne player Saso Udovic.

Aside from the quality of the opposition on the pitch the Swiss may face some problems with the poor quality of the pitch itself. On Monday the squad curtailed its first training session after bad weather combined with an apparently shoddy surface to make conditions at the Ljubljana stadium hazardous.

Wednesday's match will be Switzerland's last World Cup qualifying game this year. The competition resumes in March when the Swiss are scheduled to make another difficult trip to the home of Euro 2000 quarter-finalists Yugoslavia.

swissinfo with agencies




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