Switzerland and Turkey are playing for their Euro 2008 lives at St. Jakob-Park on Wednesday after both teams suffered defeats in their opening matches.
However, both teams have been hit by the loss through injury of their respective captains. The co-hosts were robbed of Alexander Frei during the first half of Saturday’s 1-0 Group A loss to the Czech Republic, while Turkey’s skipper Emre Belozoglu has been ruled out with a sore hamstring.
Swiss coach Kobi Kuhn said the presence of Frei in the Swiss camp is still helpful.
“This is an unfortunate situation for him, of course, but he will be a great support for us and he will come back, that is his promise,” Kuhn said.
Frei’s place will most likely go to his weekend replacement Hakan Yakin.
“The match against Turkey is going to be particularly special because of the fact my family come from there,” Yakin said.
“I’ve got a lot of Turkish friends who are getting really excited about it, although they’ll be supporting Turkey of course.
“My mother is really tense about having both countries playing against each other but she always says she supports the teams her sons play for.”
Kuhn is aware that a defeat today would effectively end their hopes of reaching the last eight.
“You never consider the possibility of a defeat, that is obvious, but we are clearly aware that a defeat would mean that our tournament would consist of just one more match against Portugal and nothing else. That’s why we want to win, This is a young team with a future, and that is obvious as well,” he added.
Meanwhile Turkey coach Fatih Terim is still coming to terms with the news of Emre’s absence.
“We are not happy but there is nothing we can do about it,” he said. “I don’t know if he will play in the following match, the medical team don’t think so, but they will try. But not having him here is not just a question of having one player out and one player in – the role he plays is not that simple.
“It is not just as simple as one player out and one player in for him, because of the role he plays.
“But then again Switzerland will not have their injured captain Alexander Frei.”
Hamit Altıntop move from defence to fill the skipper’s midfield role, with Ayhan Akman another possibility.
Terim may also be forced to change both starting centre-backs from Saturday: Gokhan Zan is likely to be out with the knee injury, while Servet Cetin is suffering from a similar problem. Emre Asık and Emre Gungor are standing by.
Despite the injury worries, Terim reminded reporters that Turkey had lost their Euro 2000 and 2002 World Cup openers but gone on to reach the knockout stages on both occasions.
“Turkey teams have lost their first match in the past and gone through so there is no reason why we cannot do it again,” Terim said. “It seems the European Championship will have to start for us with the Switzerland game.”