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World Cup qualification was "heaven and hell"

(swissinfo.ch)

The Swiss press has celebrated Switzerland's qualification for football's World Cup next year, despite a 4-2 loss to Turkey on Wednesday in Istanbul.

But the media also expressed dismay over the attacks on some of the Swiss players immediately following the match.

The loss followed a 2-0 win for the Swiss last Saturday in the first leg of the qualification round against Turkey.

Although the aggregate score was 4-4, the two away goals were enough to ensure that the Swiss are headed for the World Cup for the first time since 1994.

"Jubilation for football heroes," was the front-page headline in Zurich's Tages-Anzeiger. "The most beautiful loss in history," the German-language newspaper added in its four-page coverage of the event.

"An early lead that turned into a 4-2 loss, but the defeat was really a triumph," it continued.

"The Swiss football team have done it. They now belong to the 32 countries that will take part in the 2006 World Cup in Germany."

Riotous

The Swiss had been feeling the heat since arriving in Istanbul, with local fans promising them hell.

The tabloid Blick picked up on the theme, pointing out that the national team had to go through "heaven and hell on the Bosporus" to qualify.

"After a riotous match, on to the World Cup!" screamed the headline in the Bern-based Bund.

"Only 32 of the 205 nations that are members of Fifa qualify for the world's biggest sporting event," the Bund noted. "The numbers themselves show how exceptional a qualification is for such a small country."

"It was a 98-minute battle of nerves in front of a frenzied crowd in Istanbul," said Zurich's Neue Zürcher Zeitung. "It was a dramatic match full of highs and lows."

"It was a game that at times degenerated into skirmishes. Tempers flared and there were injuries and scenes that no one likes to see," the NZZ added.

Credit to Kuhn

The newspaper gave much credit to the Swiss Football Association's decision in 2001 to hand over the reins to coach Köbi Kuhn, which it described as a courageous move.

"With Kuhn, the association chose continuity. He made a name for himself by succeeding with the Swiss squads at the junior level."

The St Galler Tagblatt was already looking ahead to Germany next summer. "Switzerland may have the chance to play Brazil or Argentina, possibly even host Germany... their qualification is well deserved."

In its commentary, Fribourg's French-language La Liberté decried the violence that immediately followed the match.

Players clashed as they ran off the field to their dressing rooms and Swiss substitute Stéphane Grichting was rushed to hospital with injuries.

"Despite the unacceptable incidents that plagued Kuhn's team from the moment they arrived in Istanbul, football is the winner," the Liberté said.

"For the eighth time in its history, Switzerland will take part in the World Cup."

"Happiness in red and white," was the headline in the Geneva-based Le Temps, referring to Switzerland's national colours.

Below was a large cartoon of a Swiss man whistling happily as he walks past a Turkish kebab stand. A sign hangs outside the stand's window with the words: "We will not talk about football."

swissinfo

Key facts

Turkey won 4-2 against Switzerland in the second leg match in Istanbul.
Goals: Frei 1; Sanli 24, 38; Ates 52; Streller 84; Sanli 89.
It followed Switzerland's 2-0 victory on Saturday in Bern.
The aggregate score was 4-4, but the two away goals were enough to ensure that Switzerland goes through.

end of infobox


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