Swiss won't underestimate football "underdogs"

Togo party: Swiss fans getting in the mood before the opening game against France Keystone

Swiss coach Köbi Kuhn has dismissed suggestions that his side will have an easy ride against Togo in their second World Cup game in Dortmund on Monday.

This content was published on June 18, 2006 - 20:01

On paper Togo are the group's weakest side, but they impressed in their opening game against South Korea, taking the lead before having a player sent off and eventually losing 2-1.

"I don't know why everyone says Togo are the underdogs," Kuhn said at the Swiss base in Bad Bertrich. "The game has not been won yet so we will not underestimate a good team."

Switzerland grafted their way to a creditable goalless draw against group favourites France in Stuttgart on Tuesday despite looking some way off their best.

They must now take three points from the tournament's lowest ranked side to put themselves in a good position to progress to the knockout stages. However, the 1-1 draw between France and South Korea on Sunday evening helped Switzerland's cause.

Switzerland's last game against South Korea on June 23 will also have a large bearing on when they return home.

One player in Switzerland's way is Togo's striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who is well known to Swiss defender Johan Djourou as they play for the same English club, Arsenal.

"Adebayor is something special and he gives a lot to Togo. It would be perfect for me and [Philippe] Senderos [also at Arsenal] to play against him," Djourou told swissinfo.

"We have the quality to beat them but there is no such thing as a weak team in the World Cup. They are very fast in attack so we have to take them very seriously to win the three points. This is a very important game for us, we are very focused and our objective is clear."

Disruption

Togo's World Cup campaign has been disrupted by off-field turbulence that saw coach Otto Pfister resign over a pay row and then return with his players threatening to go on strike.

The German coach, who lives in Switzerland with his Swiss wife, was only appointed to his position 100 days before the tournament.

As late as Sunday the team threatened to boycott the match against Switzerland, suggesting the problems are not behind them.

But Togo showed no signs of being distracted in their opening match against South Korea, putting in a decent performance despite losing 2-1. Swiss captain Johann Vogel does not think Togo's political wranglings will benefit Switzerland.

"Sometimes these things can actually motivate a team to be more united and to play better. It could have the same effect as having a player sent off in a match that can sometimes galvanise the remaining players," he said.

Vogel's sentiments were echoed by Hakan Yakin who was impressed with the way Togo performed on Tuesday.

"I can see no advantage for us. We saw from the way Togo played against Korea that they are not suffering from the events happening off the field," he told swissinfo.

"They played with great motivation, spirit and skill and might even have won the game if they had not had a player sent off."

swissinfo, Matthew Allen in Bad Bertrich

In brief

Togo are playing in their first World Cup finals compared with Switzerland's eighth appearance in the tournament.

The African side are ranked 61st in the Fifa rankings, the lowest ranking of any of the 32 teams in Germany. Switzerland are currently ranked 35th.

The top two teams of each group qualify for the first knockout stage of the tournament.

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Key facts

Group G table on Sunday June 18:

South Korea – played twice, four points, three goals scored and two conceded;
France – played twice, two points, one goal scored, one conceded;
Switzerland – played once, one point, no goals scored or conceded;
Togo – played once, no points, one goal scored and two conceded.

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