Switzerland prepare for the World Cup draw

Updated: 25 February 2007 09:53 IST

Switzerland is known for its natural beauty, for its wealth - and indeed for its traditional neutrality in the world of politics.

Switzerland prepare for the World Cup draw

Switzerland:

Switzerland is known for its natural beauty, for its wealth - and indeed for its traditional neutrality in the world of politics. In terms of international diplomacy though, the climax of Switzerland's World Cup 2006 qualifying campaign will not be remembered particularly favourably. Their two-legged play-off against Turkey was riddled with accusations of disrespect, poor treatment and a general atmosphere of ill-feeling between both sides. The Swiss eventually won the tie, qualifying on away goals with the score 4-4 on aggregate. Disgraceful scenesBut 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.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. No superstarsThe Swiss team cannot boast any footballing superstars. But prospective opponents would be foolish to underestimate the attacking qualities of such players as Hakan Yakin and Alexander Frei. 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. 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)



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