ROZEHNAL HOPES FOR SWISS UPSETS

9. června 2008 v 8:00
Czech Republic defender David Rozehnal remains hopeful Switzerland can survive the absence of star striker Alexander Frei and pip Portugal to a top-two finish in Group A at the European Championships.
The Swiss were hit with a double-whammy on the tournament's opening day - not only did they lose 1-0 to the Czechs in a match they dominated for large parts, they have lost captain Frei for the rest of the tournament.
The Borussia Dortmund frontman is set to be sidelined for about two months with cruciate ligament damage after appearing to jar his knee in a challenge with Zdenek Grygera at the end of the first half of the curtain-raiser at Basle's St Jakob-Park.
It made for a nightmare start for the co-hosts and with Portugal beating Turkey 2-0 later on Saturday, the group already has an ominous look about it after just one round of fixtures.
But Newcastle centre-back Rozehnal does not believe Switzerland should give up hope, and would be delighted if they rose from the ashes and gave the Portuguese a run for their money in their remaining games in the pool stages.
"It's a shame for him (Frei) and I wish him a quick return," the 27-year-old said.
"But I think that even without him, they played well against us. In the last 20 minutes, they attacked us all the time and had a lot of chances.
"I think they could still pick up some crucial victories, hopefully against Portugal!"
Portugal look to be the team to beat in the group and their next match, against the Czechs in Geneva on Wednesday, will probably decide who finishes top of the pool.
Rozehnal insists his side would be delighted if they were to pick up anything from that game, with qualification for the last eight already in sight.
"Portugal are a great team, with great players and big names like (Cristiano) Ronaldo, who has had a great season," said the former Paris Germain defender, who has returned to St James' Park after a spell on loan at Lazio.
"It will be difficult for us but we will go looking for at least one point. For me, getting a point will be like a win for us.
"It would be a great result although we know all three points will take us out of the group."
The Czechs will still be pinching themselves after somehow emerging from their clash with the Swiss with all three points.
Substitute Vaclav Sverkos clinched his side a smash-and-grab win when he poked home the only goal of the game in the 70th minute, less than a quarter of an hour after coming on to replace the ineffective Jan Koller.
That strike came against the run of play and Switzerland went on to hit the bar and have two penalty appeals, both for handball against Czech captain Tomas Ujfalusi, turned down in a tense final few minutes.
"Football is a lot about luck and it was on our side here," added Rozehnal.
"We are very happy - in a competition where you only have a few games, it is good to not play well and still take the points."
The defeat, and Frei's injury, will have been hard to take for a Swiss public who had genuine reason to be optimistic heading into the Euros.
A major tournament is always worse off when the host nation is eliminated and neutrals will hope they can recover by beating Turkey in Basle on Wednesday, setting up a grand finale in the last round of fixtures next Sunday.
Swiss midfielder Gelson Fernandes told PA Sport: "It is difficult to take - we are disappointed because we have played well.
"We created so many chances, but we can't do anything about the missed opportunities or the refereeing decisions now. We can't keep our heads down. We have to keep working hard.
The Manchester City man added: "We are still there and in with a chance.
"People were expecting a lot of us and it wasn't easy. We are hurt but the group is still very much open."
 


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