Under-17s confident before European final

Shooting for glory: the Swiss under-17 football squad. www.football.ch

Switzerland's under-17 football team is heading into Friday's European Championship final against France boosted by their latest successes.

This content was published on May 10, 2002 - 08:23

The Swiss qualified for Friday's final with a historic 3-0 win over the English side. Their victory has left them confident before they take on the French as the favourites for the title in Farum, Denmark.

Switzerland have already beaten France once during the preliminary round of the competition, even though their coach Markus Frei fielded a team loaded with substitutes. Unlike the Swiss, the French also struggled to reach the final, needing penalty shootouts against Germany and Spain to get through their quarter and semifinals.

The Swiss have always scored first during their matches in Denmark, usually reaching the halftime break with a clear advantage. Despite his team's successes, Frei remains cautious about their chances of victory though.

"I have no idea if we can react if we have to chase the scoreline," admitted the Swiss coach.

Under pressure

Switzerland's players have put themselves under pressure with their qualification, and the coach has given them instructions not to talk with the press since Thursday.

The team will probably the same as the one fielded against England. Only Slavisa Dugic, one of five players of Yugoslav extraction in the Swiss squad, will not play because of a thigh injury.

"We want play the same way as usual," said Frei. "It's not because the match is being broadcast on television that we are going to change our game plan."

The Swiss team's strengths lie in its organisation, its tight defence and its effective strikers. None of the other squads playing in Denmark has managed to find a way of outsmarting Switzerland.

All the players are prepared to work for the team according to Frei. "What's important is our performance, and if that's good, then the results will follow."

This is the first time a Swiss national side has qualified for the final of an official competition since the 1924 Paris Olympics, where the team lost 3-0 to Uruguay.

swissinfo with agencies

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