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By ESPN Staff
May 15, 2006

Yakin fails to make Swiss World Cup squad

BERN, Switzerland, May 15 (Reuters) - Switzerland coach Koebi Kuhn has left former first team regular Hakan Yakin out of his 23-man squad for next month's World Cup in Germany.

The 29-year-old playmaker missed much of the past season with a groin injury but appeared to be back in the running for a World Cup call-up after some strong recent performances for Young Boys Bern.

'Yakin is a talented player, but we have a lot of other talented players to choose from,' Kuhn told reporters after naming his squad on Monday.

'I watched his last couple of games and could see how much he improved under the pressure, but I also have to think of the life of the team and I think there are some question marks over him in that regard.'

Kuhn has included Yakin on a list of five standby players who he plans to call on in the event of any late injuries.

'I spoke to him about my decision and I think he has accepted it, with a heavy heart of course,' Kuhn added.

Uncapped Basel midfielder David Degen was one of the players to be given the nod ahead of Yakin as he joined his twin brother Philipp Degen in the squad.

There were also call-ups for Arsenal's 19-year-old defender Johan Djourou and FC Zurich midfielder Blerim Dzemaili, who both made their international debut in a 3-1 friendly win over Scotland in March.

Xavier Margairaz, also of FC Zurich, was named despite just one previous competitive appearance as a substitute during Switzerland's World Cup qualifier away to the Faroe Islands.

Regular Swiss goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbuehler has been handed the number one shirt despite coming under criticism from the national media.

Kuhn however said this did not necessarily mean the Basel stopper would start in their opening World Cup match against France.

'I know several coaches have announced their number one goalkeeper, but that is not how I do things,' Kuhn insisted.

'I will name my team on the day of the match as usual. It's interesting to know that France have chosen Barthez over Coupet in goal but it's not exactly going to throw all our tactical plans out the window.'

Kuhn is banking on several players who have struggled with injury this season, including top scorer Alex Frei, fellow striker Marco Streller and Hamburg midfielder Raphael Wicky.

Kuhn added that all three would be training this week with the Swiss under-21s before joining up with the senior squad next Monday.

Switzerland have been drawn in Group G for the World Cup along with 1998 world champions France, South Korea and Togo.

Goalkeepers: 1-Pascal Zuberbuehler (FC Basel), 21-Fabio Coltorti (Grasshoppers Zurich), 12-Diego Benaglio (CD Nacional)

Defenders: 2-Johan Djourou (Arsenal), 3-Ludovic Magnin (VfB Stuttgart), 4-Philippe Senderos (Arsenal), 13-Stephane Grichting (Auxerre), 17-Christoph Spycher (Eintracht Frankfurt), 19-Valon Behrami (Lazio), 20-Patrick Mueller (Olympique Lyon), 23-Philipp Degen (Borussia Dortmund)

Midfielders: 5-Xavier Margairaz (FC Zurich), 6-Johann Vogel (AC Milan), 7-Ricardo Cabanas (Cologne), 8-Raphael Wicky (Hamburg SV), 10-Daniel Gygax (Lille), 14-David Degen (FC Basel), 15-Blerim Dzemaili (FC Zurich), 16-Tranquillo Barnetta (Bayer Leverkusen),

Forwards: 9-Alex Frei (Rennnes), 11-Marco Streller (Cologne), 18-Mauro Lustrinelli (Sparta Prague), 22-Johan Vonlanthen (NAC Breda)