Yakin poised to play key role in Swiss attack

Hakan Yakin (left) and Alex Frei warm up during a practice in Bad Bertrich Keystone

One of the best-known Swiss players, Hakan Yakin, insists he can play a vital part in the country's World Cup campaign despite his supporting role on the bench.

This content was published on June 19, 2006 minutes

The playmaker appears particularly suited to making Switzerland more effective offensively in the team's next group match against Togo this afternoon in Dortmund.

Coach Köbi Kuhn bemoaned his side's lack of creativity in the opposition half in Switzerland's 0-0 draw against France last Tuesday.

The 29-year-old Yakin played no part in the game against France and he told swissinfo at the Swiss training camp at Bad Bertrich in Germany that he does not expect to start against Togo.

But he pointed out that substitutes have played a vital role in other World Cup matches, most notably when Oliver Neuville and David Odonkor helped Germany pull off a late win against Poland on Wednesday.

"We saw in Germany's last match how players can make a dramatic impact when they come off the bench," he told swissinfo. "It is not just about the players who start the match – all the players have an important role in the team.

"I may be called upon in the last 20 minutes or the last 10, that is up to the coach. But I must be constantly ready to play my part when the time comes."

Team fixture

Yakin's 14 goals since making his Swiss debut in 2000 made him a permanent and much-heralded fixture in the first team, providing a link between the midfield and strikers.

But a series of injuries and his inability to settle at a number of clubs in the last two years have seen him drop down the pecking order.

"I was injured for six months last season and only played a few games for my club [Young Boys of Bern] so I don't expect the coach to pick me in the starting line-up straight away," he said.

He was left out of the original Swiss World Cup squad only to get a reprieve as a last minute replacement for the injured Johan Vonlanthen.

He appeared as a substitute in a friendly game against Italy on May 31 to mark his first international appearance since September of last year.

Yakin says he has no problems as a member of the supporting cast and takes seriously his role as one of the senior players on a young squad.

He is one of the few Swiss players to have experienced a major tournament, having taken part in the European Championships two years ago.

"I am here to support the coach and the team. It is natural for some of the younger players to feel a little nervous before a game in such a big tournament so I try to help them prepare by giving them tips," he told swissinfo.

"I don't see myself as a mentor, but I am here for any player who wants my advice."

swissinfo, Matthew Allen in Bad Bertrich

Key facts

Hakan Yakin's club history:

FC Concordia 1984-1995
FC Basel 1995-7
Zurich Grasshoppers 1997-8
St Gallen 1998-9
Grasshoppers 1999-2001
Basel 2001-3
PSG August 8-29, 2003 (contract terminated because of injury)
Basel 2003-4
VfB Stuttgart 2004-5
BSC Young Boys 2005-present

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In brief

Hakan Yakin was born on February 22, 1977. He has appeared 46 times for Switzerland and scored 14 goals. He made his debut against Oman in February 2000, notching his first international goal in that game.

The last time Yakin played a full 90 minutes for Switzerland was in the World Cup qualifying victory against Norway in Oslo in August of last year. Since then he has come on as substitute on four occasions, but was unused against France on Tuesday.

His brother Murat has also played for Switzerland and the two have appeared together in the national team.

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