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Switzerland and Czech Republic face off in Euro 2008 opener

Latest update : 2008-06-07

The 13th European football championships opens in Basel with host team Switzerland facing the Czech Republic. A Turkey-Portugal match is to follow.

A two-year wait for competitive football will finally end for Switzerland on Saturday when the co-hosts launch Euro 2008 against Czech Republic (1600 GMT).
 
Portugal, hosts and runners-up four years ago, then face Turkey in Geneva in the second match of the day in Group A (1845 GMT).
 
Preparations for Switzerland's big day in Basel have been overshadowed by the health of coach Koebi Kuhn's wife, who is in hospital after being placed in an artificial coma following a severe epileptic attack on Monday.
 
Kuhn has been balancing the task of getting his team ready for their first competitive game since the 2006 World Cup in Germany with making regular trips to the hospital.
 
Ottmar Hitzfeld, who will take over as Swiss coach when Kuhn steps down at the end of the tournament, said his thoughts were with his 64-year-old friend.
 
"Koebi is in an extremely tough situation having to visit his wife in hospital but I hope he can cope with it and I am sure he will, with the help of his players and assistants," Hitzfeld told a media briefing.
 
Switzerland are co-hosting the finals with Austria.
 


RONALDO FUTURE
 
Portugal's preparations have also been overshadowed by the continuing uncertainty over the future of Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been linked by media reports with a move from Manchester United to Real Madrid.
 
Luiz Felipe Scolari, Portugal's coach, has banned the winger from talking about transfer speculation and said discussions about his own future after the finals were also off-limits.
 
Elsewhere, tournament director Martin Kallen was hoping the forecast for rain on Saturday was wrong.
 
"It has rained enough and we don't want any more," he said.
 

Date created : 2008-06-07

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