Switzerland manager Murat Yakin said yesterday the current national team is the “best that ever existed” and is determined to reach the later stages of the World Cup in Qatar.
Switzerland, who will play their opener against Cameroon today, have progressed from the group stage in three of their last four tournaments, missing out only in 2010.
Yakin, who took the reins last year after Switzerland’s run to the Euro 2020 quarter-finals, predicted the country would have its best showing at any World Cup in Qatar, where they will also face Brazil and Serbia in Group G.
“I think that we are seeing the best Swiss national team that has ever existed,” Yakin told a news conference.
“We have improved a lot and now we want to write history. We are not only here to participate. We are here to win and we want to get to the next round.”
Captain Granit Xhaka, the Arsenal midfielder, was hesitant to describe the squad in the same way, saying it would not be fair to the 2018 Swiss team that was eliminated by Sweden in the round of 16.
He said, however, the Swiss team now was younger than it was four years ago and maybe “a little more hungry” to go far in the tournament. Between them, the Swiss and Cameroonian teams have played at 19 World Cup finals, with Switzerland making their debut in the 1934 tournament and Cameroon in 1982.
The high point for both teams has been reaching the quarter-finals, which Switzerland did in 1934, 1938 and 1958, while Cameroon’s best performance came in 1990.
Although Cameroon are considered the least likely side in the group to reach the round of 16, the attacking talent of Napoli’s Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa has the potential to destabilise the Swiss.
“We know that Cameroon have very good individual players who perform at a top level,” Xhaka said. “It’s a team that can be very dangerous if we let them play.”
Switzerland’s midfielder Granit Xhaka (left) and team coach Murat Yakin pose prior to a press conference in Doha yesterday.