Frei’s goals boost Switzerland’s Euro 2008 morale
2 June 2008
ST GALLEN – Alexander Frei’s double for a Swiss national team scoring record has boosted team morale just in time for Euro 2008.
"Something for the confidence – and a record," said the Neue Zuercher Zeitung broadsheet on Saturday.
Mass circulation paper Blick titled: "Frei warms up for Euro."
The team captain Frei scored in the 24th and 31st minute of a 3-0 win over modest Liechtenstein on Friday night, lifting his tally to 35 goals in 59 caps and moving ahead of former record holder Kubilay Turkyilmaz (34 goals).
"This is a great moment. I have made Swiss football history. But now it is time to look ahead," said the Borussia Dortmund player Frei.
Victory came one week after a 2-0 success over Slovenia, results that restored confidence in the Swiss camp after earlier defeats against England and Germany earlier in the year and mixed showings in 2007.
Co-hosts Switzerland meet the Czech Republic next Saturday in the Euro 2008 opener in Basle, with Frei – and the rest of the team – hoping for more good results when it really matters.
"I hope it will continue this way on 7 June," said Frei.
Coach Koebi Kuhn said he was "more or less satisfied" with Friday’s match, but acknowledged that Liechtenstein were obviously not of the same calibre as the Swiss opponents at Euro – apart from the Czechs they are Turkey and Portugal.
"We were effectively invited to score the first two goals. It is only natural that there are a few things to be improved ahead of the match against the Czechs," said Kuhn.
Frei’s goals on Friday further underlined the importance of his recovery for Euro 2008 from the latest injury layoff which lasted nine months owing to hip and calf problems.
"I never want to go through another season like this. But I always looked ahead at Euro," said Frei.
Playmaker Tranquillo Barnetta, who was sidelined Friday and remains doubtful for next week over ankle problems, also heaped praise for Frei.
"We are proud to have him (Frei) in the team. The goals came at the right time for us," said the Bayer Leverkusen player Barnetta.
Kuhn said about Frei: "He is a great fighter with a big heart. This is good for the whole team."
But the coach also indicated that solid showings of Patrick Mueller (from French champions Olympique Lyon) in defence were as important for the team as Frei’s goals.
"He is playing on the level we expect him to have against the Czechs. I hope he can give the defence the necessary stability. He made only a few mistakes in the two games," said Kuhn.
[dpa / Expatica]