Football: Portuguese problems: Scottish fingers crossed

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

SCOTLAND'S hopes of getting a boost to their World Cup qualifying campaign from Portugal defeating unbeaten Switzerland tomorrow are sagging under the weight of Portuguese injuries.

Three of the defenders who played the 3-1 home defeat by Italy last month, including Portugal's experienced captain Joao Silva Pinto, are ruled out. Portugal's coach, Carlos Queiros, will lean heavily on the under-20 squads he steered to European youth championship victory in 1989 and 1991. Eight of his proteges are in his 17-man party for the match in Berne's Wankdorf stadium.

The Swiss, who have not reached the finals since 1966, have their problems, too, with their captain, Andy Egli, sidelined by a leg injury and Georges Bregy, the 35-year-old who runs their midfield, excused training to avoid aggravating an earlier injury.

But Switzerland, coached by the Englishman Roy Hodgson, will be inspired by the memory of the two defeats at Portugal's hands that cost them a place in the 1990 finals in Italy.

'I am counting on five points from the coming three matches against Portugal, Malta and Italy,' Hodgson said.

Italy head Group Five with eight points from five games, followed by the Swiss with seven from four, the Scots with four from four and Portugal with three from three. Estonia and Malta complete the group.

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