Double whammy for Swiss team at opening match
9 June 2008
BASLE – When Swiss captain Alexander Frei hobbled off the field towards the end of the first half of their opening Group A game against the Czech Republic, the striker was crying.
It could well be that the 28-year-old knew at that time already that his Euro competition was finished after less than 45 minutes of football.
It could also be that the Borussia Dortmund striker knew that without him, his side would struggle to score goals. And that is exactly what happened.
Although the hosts dominated much of the play, their opponents got the all important goal in 71st minute through substitute Vaclav Sverkos.
Frei’s injury must have hurt as much as the defeat and Hakin Yakin, who came on for his captain, said that it would be very difficult to replace Frei.
"We do not know what the matter is with him at the moment, but of course we are worried. On the other hand, we are the 23 best Swiss players and I think we have a good squad, so hopefully we will be able to bounce back."
Swiss officials said that Frei had been taken to hospital and would be examined. They later said that he had suffered a partial rupture of his ligament and would be out for six to seven weeks.
Coach Kobi Kuhn added that he had spoken to Frei who said immediately that he believed it was a ligament problem.
"Of course it is a big shock, but the team was not shocked. I am worried about the next games."
The Czech players joined in expressing their support for Frei, with striker Jan Koller saying that he felt sympathy for the Swiss.
"In 2006, I injured myself in the first half of our first World Cup game and that was the end of my World Cup tournament. It is a terrible blow for him."
Frei is the latest in a long list of players who have already been injured at this tournament, with Portuguese goalkeeper Quim withdrawing on Saturday.
Italy’s Fabio Cannavaro had to leave Austria having spent just a few days in the country after picking up an injury that required an operation.
Since then Poland have lost both Jakub Blaszczykowski and goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak, while Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak has also been withdrawn from the squad because of an injury.
Several other players could potentially miss their first game after being injured in training, with Italian Christian Panucci, France’s Patrick Vieira doubtful and Dutchman Arjen Robben ruled out.
[dpa / Expatica]
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