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Switzerland starts favourite

For Togo it's the last chance: Pfister

DORTMUND: Switzerland embodies order, discipline and planning. Togo has come to symbolise turmoil.

Yet, there are more similarities than one might expect between the two squads, which face each other in a crucial World Cup match in Group G on Monday.

Swiss coach Koebi Kuhn and Togo's German coach Otto Pfister are longtime friends. Pfister's wife is Swiss; he has a home in the Swiss city of Zurich; and he knows the Swiss tactical style. Many of the Togolese squad have played or currently play in the Swiss league.

Switzerland, which reached the World Cup after a 12-year absence and held France to a 0-0 draw in its opener, is looking for a victory to ease its way into the second round.

Quite rare

"It's quite rare for us to be seen as the favourite, but the team can deal with it," Kuhn said when asked about the pressure on a squad from a small country better known for its skiers and which is traditionally regarded as the underdog.

Togo, one of the surprise African qualifiers and the lowest ranked team in the tournament, is fighting for survival after losing 2-1 to South Korea.

"For Togo it's the last chance. We are an outsider, that's clear", Pfister commented.

A welcome relief

Togo has one advantage compared to its match against South Korea. Its management upheavals, which saw Pfister storm out for three days and return just hours before the match, have subsided.

Its big disadvantage is that veteran captain Jean-Paul Abalo, a vital stabilising factor, is serving a one-match suspension for a red card. Defender Ludovic Assemoassa also is out because of an injury.

"I don't know how we are going to play and if we will play differently," striker Emmanuel Adebayor said. "All I know is that we will play to win."

Swiss defender Ludovic Magnin is expected to be fit after suffering a few bruises and sprains against France, but defender Valon Behrami looks doubtful because of a groin strain.

Switzerland's biggest enemy may well be the heat of the afternoon match. But, as usual, it is prepared.

Kuhn said he wanted a faster game than against France.

"We always aim for that ... but the climate may not allow us to give you fireworks for 90 minutes," he said.

This time around, the young, ambitious squad is hoping for more clear scoring chances against Togo's weakened defence, but is under no illusions about the challenges.

Pfister said the "Les Eperviers", or "Sparrow Hawks", are fitter now than they were entering the match against South Korea, when the team was paralysed because of the players' strike over pay. — AP

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