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Group B: Switzerland Qualified as winner of Group 10
Underdogs Switzerland plan to spring a surprise
 

An ageing team and a veteran coach, together with a less than impressive run of warm-up results, has suggested Switzerland will only be making up the numbers at Euro 2004 next month.

Coach Koebi Kuhn, who will lead the Swiss to their first appearance at a major tournament since Euro 96, accepts that his team will be among the bookmakers' also-rans but believes they can use that as motivation and spring a few surprises.

"Our goal is to reach the quarter-finals," said Kuhn. "We're a small football nation and we've achieved something special. But we'll need to concentrate and work hard for the finals."

Few predicted the Swiss would qualify from a group including Russia and Ireland but Kuhn achieved the unexpected and steered them to Portugal as winners of Group 10 by a point over Russia.

Their modern, compact and determined football, using a 4-3-1-2 formation, was rarely spectacular but often effective. Opponents were drawn in and stifled by a defensive web spun across the field before the Swiss broke swiftly and cleverly.

The roles taken by the Yakin brothers, Murat in central defence and Hakan in the hole behind the strikers, were the key.

But after being put in Group B at the finals with defending champions and 1998 World Cup winners France, a dangerous England side and an unpredictable Croatia, Switzerland will need to move up a gear.

Unfortunately, they lack tournament experience, genuine pace and the high-quality match-winners needed to turn dour scraps into victories, although the Swiss remain optimistic they can steer their way through a tough group and into the last eight.

"Obviously, we're not the favourites but that could suit us," said assistant coach Michel Pont. "We'll start with Croatia and England...This means we'd have to get good results to reach the quarter-finals before meeting France...

"We shall see if we can do that."

Switzerland face Croatia in their first game in Leiria on June 13 and meet England in Coimbra four days later. Their final group match is against France in Coimbra on June 21.

The opening match is the key to their progress and if they lose then their hopes of upsetting the odds by reaching the last eight will be virtually killed off.

Worryingly, Switzerland's recent form has been poor. In their first warm-up match in February they lost 2-1 to a second-string Morocco in Rabat and badly missed the defensive organisational skills of Basel captain Murat Yakin.

They fared little better in their second warm-up match, a 1-0 defeat to fellow Euro 2004 finalists Greece in Crete at the end of March. However, there was a welcome return to form with a 2-1 win over Slovenia in Geneva at the end of April.

Much-improved form will also be needed in warm-up games against Germany and neighbours Liechtenstein if their morale is to be lifted before the finals get underway.

Kuhn's mix of youngsters and experienced players enabled the Alpine nation to qualify strongly but the team relies heavily on a small group of senior players maintaining form and fitness.

In defence, Stephane Henchoz, Patrick Muller and Murat Yakin are consistent, while midfielders Johan Vogel and Benjamin Huggel have emerged as dependable cogs in a well-oiled system.

The attack needs Hakan Yakin to be fit after an injury-hit run over the last 18 months and also to be at his inventive best, demonstrating his ability to open up defences.

Strikers Alexander Frei and the vastly-experienced Stephane Chapuisat lack pace and outstanding skill but work diligently and intelligently for the team. In all, Switzerland have a side strong on dedication and perspiration but lacking inspiration.

In the qualifying campaign the Swiss were left with a last-game showdown against Ireland in Basel to go through as group winners and succeeded, goals by Hakan Yakin and Frei securing a 2-0 win against lacklustre opposition.

"We feel lucky just to be in the finals," said Swiss FA president Ralph Zloczower. "The group is a very attractive one, although with France we have got the most difficult game.

"Croatia are certainly within our range and we can win. Against England, we also have a chance. The style of British football is appropriate for us because we know all about it."
- Timothy Collings

 « Star Player »

Name Hakan Yakin
Position
Forward
Club
Stuttgart
DOB
22.02.1977

Yakin a key ingredient in Swiss mix

If any Swiss player can shine on the big stage at the Euro 2004 finals, it will be attacking midfielder Hakan Yakin.
The Turkish-born playmaker, deadly from free kicks and a dangerous runner with the ball at his feet, has made the position behind the front two in coach Koebi Kuhn's preferred 4-3-1-2 system his own.
"We cannot replace him one for one," said Kuhn. "He adds ingredients that are not there with other players."
Evidence of his importance to the team came when the Swiss travelled to Russia without him...   [more]

 

 « The Coach »
Coach Kuhn puts Switzerland back on the soccer map
When Switzerland qualified for Euro 2004 at Basel's St Jakob Park in October the capacity crowd broke into a chorus of 'Happy Birthday' for coach Koebi Kuhn.
Switzerland had just beaten Ireland 2-0 to reach their first major finals since 1996 and the grey-haired Kuhn, who was 60 the following day, was the hero of the hour.
It was a moving moment for Kuhn, whose attention to detail and devotion to duty had helped to turn a moderate team from also-rans into surprise qualifiers for the Portugal finals.
It was also a satisfying day for the Swiss Football Federation (SFV) who turned to Kuhn in 2001 after 12 years with a foreign coach in charge -- handing him the task of trying to emulate Englishman Roy Hodgson who took Switzerland to the finals of the World Cup in 1994 and to Euro 96.
Kuhn inherited an ageing squad from his Argentine predecessor Enzo Trossero but, blending youth and experience, he created a progressive and well-organised team.
As a creative midfielder in the 1960s and 1970s, Kuhn was a stalwart of the Swiss side, earning 64 caps as well as winning six league titles and five Swiss Cups with FC Zurich.
Three decades later he is trying to bring that same winning mentality to the current squad.
His modern 4-3-1-2 playing system is built on the foundations of a solid, but flexible, defence, a hard-working midfield with a single creative mainspring and two selfless workhorses in attack.
"It is important for the team and all the squad to work together and to understand our goals," said Kuhn. "Everyone has to understand the team and their role in it. That, and hard work, is the route to success."
Kuhn, who has also coached the under-17 and under-21 squads, was rewarded for his success with a two-year contract extension last November that will take in the qualification programme for the 2006 World Cup.
Until then he will concentrate on making his team the surprise package in a tough group which includes tournament favourites France, England and Croatia.

 
 « The Squad »

 Switzerland

Players DOB Club Cap Goal
Köbi Kuhn C 12.10.1943
23. Fabrice Borer G 24.12.1971 Grasshoppers
12. Pascal Zuberbühler G 08.01.1971 Basel
1. Joerg Stiel G 03.03.1968 M'ladbach
3. Bruno Berner D 21.11.1977 Freiburg
2. Bernt Haas D 08.04.1978 WBA
4. Stéphane Henchoz D 07.09.1974 Liverpool
20. Patrick Müller D 17.12.1976 Lyon
5. Murat Yakin D 15.09.1974 Basel
13. Marco Zwyssig D 24.10.1971 Basel
17. Christoph Spycher D 30.03.1978 Grasshoppers
14. Ludovic Magnin D 20.04.1979 Werder
7. Ricardo Cabanas M 17.01.1979 Grasshoppers
16. Fabio Celestini M 31.10.1975 Marseille
8. Raphael Wicky M 26.04.1977 Hamburg
18. Benjamin Huggel M 07.07.1977 Basel
10. Hakan Yakin M 22.02.1977 Stuttgart
19. Johann Lonfat M Sochaux
6. Johann Vogel M 08.03.1977 PSV
11. Stéphane Chapuisat F 28.06.1969 Young Boys
9. Alexander Frei F 15.07.1979 Rennes
21. Milaim Rama F 29.02.1976 Thun
15. Daniel Gygax F PSV
22. Jonathan Vonlanthen F Zurich
 

 

 

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Federation
Schweizerischer Fussbalverband (1895)
Headquarter
Postfach - 3000 Berna
Website
www.football.ch
President
Ralph M.Zloczower
Best Performance in Finals Round-1 in 1996
Recent record in Finals
1980 DNQ
1984 DNQ
1988 DNQ
1992 DNQ
1996 Round-1
2000 DNQ

 

 « Road to Portugal »

4-1
1-1
2-1
0-0
2-2
3-2
1-4
2-0

v Georgia
v Albania
v Ireland
v Georgia
v Russia
v Albania
v Russia
v Ireland 
H
A
A
A
H
H
A
H

 

 « Final Tournament »

B v Croatia

   1800 CET 13 June 2004

B v England

   1800 CET 17 June 2004

B v France

   2045 CET 21 June 2004

 

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