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Archive for Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Switzerland contributes to Togo’s misery, 2-0

June 20, 2006

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— Togo's Sparrow Hawks fluttered out of World Cup contention Monday after one of the most tempestuous journeys in the tournament's history.

Team Turmoil, which became the butt of jokes about "To-Go or Not To-Go" for its coaching carousel and threatened players' boycott, was tamed 2-0 by a Swiss side that is the opposite of the African team: precise and predictable.

Switzerland's victory sent it to the top of Group G with four points, slightly ahead of South Korea on goal differential. Switzerland and South Korea play Friday, with one of them headed to the second round and possibly both.

Togo, which lost 2-1 to South Korea in the opener, will now face France, in third position at two points and fighting for survival.

Togolese players said they would not be a walkover in Friday's match.

"We don't want to leave with zero points," said Robert Malm. "We want to score some points for the honor of Togo."

At least Monday's performance salvaged a bit of that honor, badly battered by an ugly dispute over salary and bonuses. The conflict, which has rumbled on ever since Togo qualified for the tournament, came to a head Sunday when the players refused to get on the plane to travel to Dortmund.

They eventually relented after FIFA told them they risked serious sanctions, including being kicked out of the World Cup and barred from future ones. FIFA also promised to ensure the players get paid.

Spain 3, Tunisia 1

Stuttgart, Germany - Spain is emerging as a serious candidate for the World Cup title, rebounding from a goal down to beat Tunisia and advance to the second round.

Spain's unbeaten streak under coach Luis Aragones is now at 24 games and the young squad advanced from Group H in the last of the middle games of the first round.

Substitute Raul Gonzalez and attacking partner Fernando Torres turned the game around in a six-minute span after Tunisia took an early lead on a counterattack. Torres added a penalty kick goal in the 90th minute.

Ukraine 4, Saudi Arabia 0

Hamburg, Germany - Ukraine got its World Cup bid back on track, taking the lead for good on a goal by defender Andriy Rusol in the fourth minute of a rain-swept match against outsider Saudi Arabia.

It was a much-needed win for Ukraine, which lost 4-0 to Spain during their Group H opener.

With Spain already through to the second round, Ukraine is second in the group with three points. Tunisia and Saudi Arabia each have one.

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