Nigeria defeat sees Swiss end year with negative balance

Updated: November 20, 2007, 5:20 PM ET
Reuters

ZURICH, Nov 20 - Euro 2008 co-hosts Switzerland suffered a disappointing end to an indifferent year when they lost 1-0 at home to Nigeria on Tuesday.

Already qualified for Euro 2008 because of their status as tournament hosts, Switzerland have won four of their 10 friendlies this year -- drawing one and losing the remaining five.

Nigeria, currently ranked by FIFA as Africa's top side and coached by former Germany trainer Berti Vogts, were without injured Portsmouth strike pair Nwankwo Kanu and John Utaka for Tuesday's match.

Newcastle United forward Obafemi Martins was also absent, after failing to secure a visa for Switzerland.

With the home side also depleted upfront by injuries to top scorer Alex Frei and his regular attacking partner Marco Streller, the game was understandably short of firepower.

Aptly it was a defender who eventually broke the deadlock, Marseille left-back Taye Taiwo firing in a fierce left-footed 79th minute strike from just outside the area following a neat lay-back by Peter Odemwingie.

Switzerland's fellow co-hosts Austria are set to end their own difficult year of friendlies on Wednesday when they take on Tunisia in Vienna.

The Austrians are in even poorer form than the Swiss, having won just once -- against a 10-man Ivory Coast side -- in 11 matches this year.

(Writing by Mark Ledsom in Berne, editing by Trevor Huggins)

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