Switzerland are setting off for their World Cup campaign in Germany on Thursday in good shape after a rigorous warm-up routine that included three friendly matches.This content was published on June 7, 2006 - 07:39
swissinfo found the players in a positive mood during training at Feusisberg outside Zurich, after a 1-1 draw against Ivory Coast, the same result against Italy and a 4-1 victory over China.
Coach Köbi Kuhn carefully selected the African, European and Asian opponents to reflect Switzerland's World Cup group containing Togo, France and South Korea. Switzerland start their campaign against France on Tuesday June 13.
Swiss defender Ludovic Magnin told swissinfo that the result against Italy, one of the World Cup favourites, was particularly promising.
"We demonstrated that we can make life difficult against one of the best teams in the world, which was interesting. It showed us where we stand and we hope that we can stay on this path," he said.
"We are confident of doing well in the World Cup and we have the definite goal of reaching the first knock-out stage. We will fight until we fall over to reach this goal."
Switzerland also drew twice with former world champions France during the World Cup qualifying stage and reached the finals after overcoming a strong Turkey side in a dramatic two-legged play-off.
Midfield player Tranquillo Barnetta, who scored against Ivory Coast, believes the mix of opponents in the friendly matches was the ideal preparation.
"The three matches told us a lot about the different styles of play we can expect from our group adversaries in Germany," he told swissinfo.
"It was also good to experience playing three matches in quick succession because we will face this schedule when we arrive in Germany."
Barnetta, 21, is one of a number of young players in the 22-man Swiss squad that features 11 players under the age of 25, including teenager Johan Djourou.
Captain Johann Vogel, 29, is happy that the less experienced players have faced tough opposition before the real challenge begins in earnest.
"The younger generation of players has already managed to get a lot of international experience in a relatively short space of time," he told swissinfo.
"They are all level headed and want to demonstrate that they are strong players. I am not at all worried that they are so inexperienced."
Vogel's confidence was echoed by former regular player Hakan Yakin, who was brought into the squad as a late replacement for the injured Johan Vonlanthen.
"The mood in the camp is very good, morale is good and we are a very united group of players," he told swissinfo.
"We may not have a lot of experience, but for these youngsters anything is possible. I used to be a regular fixture in the team before, but now I have a special role of supporting the coach and helping the team with my experience."
swissinfo, Matthew Allen in Feusisberg
This year's World Cup will be Switzerland's eighth appearance in the history of the tournament. They reached the quarter-final stage in 1934, 1938 and 1954 (the year Switzerland hosted the competition).
The 32 countries that made the finals in Germany (starting on June 9) are split into eight groups of four teams. The top two teams of each group will qualify for the first knock-out stage, called the Round of 16 (starting on June 24).
Switzerland's group matches:
Tuesday June 13 vs France in Stuttgart (kick-off 1800)
Monday June 19 vs Togo in Dortmund (1500)
Friday June 23 vs South Korea in Hanover (2100)
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