Thursday December 07, 2023

Switzerland ‘can beat anyone’ at World Cup, says Xhaka

November 25, 2022

DOHA: Granit Xhaka said Switzerland “can beat anyone” at the World Cup after Breel Embolo’s goal secured a 1-0 victory over Cameroon in their opening match on Thursday.

The Swiss have reached the last 16 at the last two World Cups but play tournament favourites Brazil next before concluding their Group G campaign against Serbia.

Switzerland made the quarter-finals at Euro 2020 after knocking out current world champions France and Xhaka feels his side could be one of the dark horses in Qatar.

Embolo struck three minutes into the second half at Al Janoub Stadium as Switzerland secured a vital three points in Group G which includes tournament favourites Brazil and Serbia.

“It is not chance, when you look at the last 10 to 12 years we have been in the main tournaments,” the Swiss captain said.

“Brazil is the favourite for the tournament in my view. We have to bother them as we did in 2018.”

Switzerland drew 1-1 with Brazil in their first game at the 2018 World Cup, where they also beat Serbia 2-1 thanks to goals from Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri.

“I think Brazil can put three teams in the starting 11. Huge, huge talents. Big, big quality,” said Xhaka.

“But it is one game over 90 minutes. Anything can happen in one game. We need to be very compact and not make stupid mistakes because you pay for that.

“Our team is much more experienced than four years ago. We’re looking forward to our next match. On our day we can beat anyone.”

Xhaka praised the Yaounde-born Embolo for his winner against the country of his birth, which he left as a child.

Embolo held up his hands apologetically after scoring early in the second half.

“It’s never easy playing against the country of your birth but Breel was great today. I know he kept quiet after his goal but we need Breel for his goals,” said Xhaka.

Embolo was granted Swiss citizenship in 2014 and pledged his international allegiance to his adopted homeland.

“That’s part of the game,” said Cameroon boss Rigobert Song. “We are all proud of our country and you saw he didn’t celebrate the goal.This is part and parcel of football.

“I’m happy and I’m also proud of him. He’s playing for the Switzerland national team, I’d have liked him to be on my side but that’s just life.”