Switzerland prepare for World Cup draw

Switzerland will be taking part in their first World Cup finals for 12 years at Germany 2006.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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Switzerland will be taking part in their first World Cup finals for 12 years at Germany 2006. Unfortunately, their qualification will not be remembered for the impressive progress made by a young squad – but instead for the fighting among players, officials and stewards at the end of the second leg of the play-off against Turkey in Istanbul, which the Swiss edged on the away goals rule. FIFA is currently undertaking the biggest disciplinary investigation in the organisation's history. Eyes on next summer But Koebi Kuhn and his squad are now focussing on next summer, where they will hope to gain valuable experience. Their two-legged play-off against Turkey was marked by accusations of disrespect and poor treatment, and a general atmosphere of ill-feeling between both sides - from the supporters all the way up to the respective football associations. The Swiss eventually won the tie, qualifying on away goals with the score 4-4 on aggregate. But the second leg in Istanbul will be remembered only for the disgraceful scenes at the final whistle, with players, officials and stewards involved in violent exchanges as they left the pitch and in the tunnel. FIFA is currently carrying out the biggest disciplinary investigation in its history. The Swiss, though, can now look forward to next summer's tournament in Germany. Gaining confidence The young squad will have gained a great deal of confidence in qualifying from a group which also included France, Ireland and Israel, and coach Koebi Kuhn believes his young squad can make further progress in the competition itself. "It (the group) was difficult to play (in), but the team is a very young team, a very young Swiss team. They had great experiences (during the group stage), so I think we can go far (in the competition)," said Koebi Kuhn, Switzerland coach. The Swiss team cannot boast any footballing superstars. But prospective opponents would be foolish to underestimate the qualities of such players as Hakan Yakin and Alexander Frei. Battling it out Even so, Kuhn knows that his side will need a fair degree of luck if they are to make it all the way through to the latter stages - where he predicts that the same big names will be battling it out for glory. "I think they are always the same. Brazil, Germany, Italy. I don't know, maybe Argentina. But I think that one of those teams will be the world champion in 2006," said Kuhn. For Kuhn, the fact that the tournament is taking place 'next door' in Germany is reason enough for the Swiss to celebrate. "Yes, I think it will be a really great event. Germany (is) a country of football, and I think for us - a neighbour of Germany, a small neighbour of Germany - for us, it's the greatest thing ever," he said. Switzerland will be taking part in their first World Cup finals for 12 years. In truth, making it through the second round would probably represent a success for a developing team - and the Swiss can then focus on improving further at Euro 2008, which they are co-hosting with Austria. (AP)