Switzerland stay on course for World Cup

The great Swiss adventure can now begin Keystone

The Swiss national football team have ended their preparations for the World Cup finals in Germany with a resounding 4-1 victory over China in Zurich.

This content was published on June 4, 2006 - 15:44

Saturday's match, which followed 1-1 draws with fellow tournament contenders Ivory Coast and Italy, has left coach Köbi Kuhn satisfied with his team's progress.

"I'm very happy with what I've seen," Kuhn commented after the game with China.

"Including our training sessions we've had two weeks of hard work and I think the team is absolutely where I want it to be and well on course for the World Cup finals."

The Swiss goals against China came from strikers Alex Frei, who scored in the 40th and 49th minutes, and Marco Streller in the 47th and 73rd minutes.

Frei's goals brought his tally in the national side to 25 from 45 appearances.

Punishing schedule

Coach Kuhn had designed the test matches within eight days knowing that the World Cup group matches against France, Togo and South Korea will provide a punishing schedule.

"It was not just the opponents that were important but also the nature of the schedule," said Kuhn.

"For the three matches, we actually gave ourselves two days fewer than we will have at the World Cup and we had the whole stress of travelling to different cities to give our young team some tournament-like experience."

In a related development, Switzerland decided on Saturday to officially withdraw striker Johan Vonlanthen from the national squad after his failure to recover from a hamstring injury.

Subject to a decision by governing body Fifa in Zurich, the Swiss will be able to replace Vonlanthen with midfield player Hakan Yakin of the Bern club Young Boys.

Yakin who was left out of the squad named by Kuhn on May 15 was recalled from his holidays after Vonlanthen's injury.

"We all know that strikers of Vonlanthen's quality are not commonplace," commented Kuhn when asked about the effect of the Breda striker's withdrawal.

Balance

"I am very happy with the balance that we have in the squad, though. We have a bunch of players who can compensate for each other in practically every position and it's been a long time that a Swiss coach has been able to say that."

The players are now free till Tuesday evening when they meet above Lake Zurich at their Feusisberg base.

On Wednesday they will have two training sessions before the big departure for Germany on Thursday.

"We are perfectly in our time schedule. The preparations went off well. The three friendly matches taught us the lessons I'd hoped for," Kuhn said.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Swiss matches in World Cup 2006: Group G
June 13: Switzerland – France in Stuttgart
June 19: Switzerland – Togo in Dortmund
June 23: Switzerland - South Korea in Hanover

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In brief

Switzerland have lost only one of their 12 matches on the way to Germany, stringing together an 11-game unbeaten run (five wins and six draws) before going down 4-2 to Turkey in the second play-off match in Istanbul (having won the first 2-0).

Köbi Kuhn will be the first Swiss to manage his country at the World Cup in 56 years. His predecessors were the Austrian Karl Rappan (1954 and 1962), the Italian Alfredo Foni (1966) and England's Roy Hodgson (1994).

The last Swiss coach at the World Cup was Franco Andreoli in 1950.

Switzerland have never played a team from Africa, Asia or Oceania at the World Cup.

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