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  • 26 July 2012
  • • 17:15
  • • St. James' Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • Referee: W. Roldán
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Gabon - Switzerland Preview: The Panthers look to make an impact in first Olympics against flourishing Swiss team

Gabon - Switzerland Preview: The Panthers look to make an impact in first Olympics against flourishing Swiss team

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African nation make their bow after winning the CAF Under-23 qualifying tournament while Pierluigi Tmi's side gained their place as runners up of the Under-21 European Championship

  PROBABLE LINEUPS

Gabon

Ovono
Ecuele, Dinda, E.Ndong, Ebanega
Ndoumbou H.Ndong, Mandinda, Engongah
Nono, Aubameyang
Switzerland
 
Benaglio
Schaer, Klose, Daprela, Rodriguez
Frei, Buff, Wiss, Kasami
Mehmedi, Emeghara

Goalkeeper Didier Ovono, FC Lorient’s defender Bruno Ecuele Manga and Charly Moussono of Libreville-based Missile FC have been included as the three over-age players for Gabon and will be central to Claude Mbourounot’s side as they make their debut at the Olympics as CAF Under-23 champions.

The Swiss will be looking to improve upon their runners-up position at the European Under-21 Championship 2011 in Denmark and earn gold in London.

However, manager Pierluigi Tami will be without star players Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka, who have both been held back by their new clubs Bayern Munich and Borussia Monchengladbach, respectively, to prepare for the upcoming Bundesliga season.

Wolfsburg golakeeper Diego Benaglio will be central to the national team’s defence, having only conceded once during the side’s World Cup 2010 campaign and will be looking to keep more clean sheets during the Olympic Games.


  DID YOU KNOW?

  • This will be the Switzerland's first appearance back at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament for 84 years.
  • The Schweizer Nati last contested the tournament at the 1928 Games in Amsterdam, but failed to survive the first hurdle in a 4-0 defeat to Germany.
  • The greatest triumph in the Swiss association's history was in 1924 in Paris, in which they got to the final. However their opponents Uruguay prevailed 3-0.
  • Striker Admir Mehmedi, finished second-top scorer at the European Under-21 Championship 2011 on three goals, behind only Spain's Adrian, who hit five.
  • Gabon are making their first ever appearance at the Games.
  • Mbourounot’s side will head to London as champions of the CAF Under-23 qualifying tournament.
  • The Panthers beat Ivory Coast, Senegal and Morocco on their way to the title.
  • Six different players scored for Gabon in qualifying. Their only multiple goal-scorer was Emmanuel Ndong Mba, who grabbed a brace against the Ivorians.

Related

Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
Head to Head
Olympic Games ‎(OLY)‎ 26 Jul 2012 Gabon U-23 1 - Switzerland U-23 1
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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1Diego BenaglioGoalkeeper
13Ricardo RodriguezDefender
15Timm KloseDefender
-Fabian SchaerDefender
17Michel MorganellaDefender
2Xavier HochstrasserMidfielder
-Oliver BuffMidfielder
9Fabian FreiMidfielder
-Steven ZuberMidfielder
7Innocent EmegharaStriker
-Admir MehmediStriker
18Benjamin SiegristGoalkeeper
3Fabio DaprelàDefender
5Francois AffolterDefender
6Alain WissMidfielder
8Amir AbrashiMidfielder
10Pajtim KasamiMidfielder
-Josip DrmicStriker
Players to Watch
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 7
Games Goals YC RC
3 1 0 0
The athletic forward is another tipped to have a promising future and possesses a multitude of skills which he displayed for the senior side at the African Cup of Nations. At 6'1", he has the height and strength married with the athletic ability to be effective in the air.

The Saint-Etienne player also has the speed and ability to run at defenders, while also displaying the skill to score with both feet and will be a tricky prospect for the Swiss defence.
Admir Mehmedi
Admir Mehmedi
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 0
Games Goals YC RC
3 1 0 0
The 21-year-old striker is regarded as a one of Switzerland’s brightest prospects, and showed his ability by scoring three goals during the team’s qualifying campaign. The Dynamo Kyiv forward also got on the scoresheet for the senior team in a 5-3 victory against Germany, prior to Euro 2012.

The Macedonia-born attacker will use his physical presence to hold the ball up and has a good eye for goal which will be key if the Swiss want to overcome a strong Gabon side.
Prediction
With both teams looking to continue their impressive tournament displays and get off to a strong start in their opening game of Group B. Each team have the ability to cause each other problems, and the game could be won by the team that defends best, with some prolific strikers lining up for each nation.

With Switzerland missing two key men in Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka, they may find it a more difficult task to break down a solid Gabon side, but should still have enough about them to edge the match and kick start their campaign in a competitive group.
Editor's Prediction

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