Smith prepares to break Hampden hoodoo

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The Independent Online

The fact that Scotland have not won a friendly match at Hampden for 10 years is balanced by the record of Switzerland, their visitors for tonight's friendly, who have never won on Scottish soil, in six games spanning 56 years. Yet key figures from each side yesterday sought to allay fears of a bore-draw involving a resistible force and a moveable object.

Scotland's manager, Walter Smith, said that the match would be an important stepping stone towards a tough qualifying campaign for Euro 2008.

Switzerland's Arsenal defender, Philippe Senderos, insisted that his side would be going for a first win in Scotland as they continue their World Cup warm-up fixtures. The Swiss play France, South Korea and Togo in the group stage, and after tonight's match face three other pre-tournament friendlies, against Italy, China and Ivory Coast.

"There's some terrific games to look forward to in the [Euro 2008 qualifying] group," said Smith, whose Scotland side will face Italy, France, Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania and the Faroe Islands in that competition.

"What we have to do at home is find the balance between being solid enough defensively and causing teams enough problems to get the number of goals required to win a game."

Talking about the Hampden hoodoo - Scotland have not won a home friendly since beating Australia in March 1996 - he added: "The record, such as it is, doesn't bother me too much... I'm hoping to get some continuity from the squad."

Switzerland have lost four times and drawn twice on Scottish soil, and lost their last game against Scotland, during Euro '96.

"As a preparation game for the World Cup, this is very important for us," said Senderos, who is expected to play at least part of the game alongside his Arsenal team-mate, Johan Djourou.

Scotland have had four withdrawals, the latest being the Hibernian striker Garry O'Connor, who pulled out so he could negotiate his imminent £1.6m move to Lokomotiv Moscow. The Wigan midfielder Gary Teale is hoping to benefit from a run-out at some stage, though Smith will wait until later today to select his starting XI.

Scotland (possible 4-3-1-2): Gordon (Hearts); Alexander (Preston), Dailly (West Ham), Weir, Naysmith (both Everton); Fletcher (Man Utd), Ferguson (Rangers), Quashie (West Brom); McFadden (Everton); Miller (Wolves), McCulloch (Wigan).

Switzerland (possible 4-3-1-2): Zuberbuhler (FC Basle); Degen (Borussia Dortmund), Djourou, Senderos (both Arsenal), Behrami (Lazio); Barnetta (Bayer Leverkusen), Vogel (Milan), Wicky (SV Hamburg); Cabanas (Cologne); Vonlanthen (NAC Breda), Streller (Cologne).

Referee: B Coue (France).

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