Monday, 16 July, 2018

Xherdan Shaqiri says controversial celebration was 'emotion' during Switzerland win over Serbia

Alfred Finnbogason Serbia v Switzerland
Betsy Taylor | 23 June, 2018, 04:26

The coaches of Serbia and Switzerland only want to talk about football, not about an entrenched political dispute casting a shadow over their teams' World Cup showdown in Russian Federation.

"It's clear that emotions were displayed up and I think we all need to steer away from politics and focus on this sport as a handsome game that brings people together", Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic told reporters.

"We will tell them we had a great match against Brazil".

"Sometimes there's a lack of recognition and that's a pity because we played very well", grumbled Switzerland boss Vladimir Petkovic in the aftermath of that game.

One sub-plot to watch out for could be the Serbian fans' treatment of Switzerland's three players with links to Kosovo.

Then Swiss midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, who was born in Kosovo, scored the winning goal in the 90th minute of the game on a breakaway pass that led him charging down the field. Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 and is not recognized as a sovereign nation by Serbia.

Head coach Vladimir Petkovic could name the same side that drew 1-1 with Brazil, with Haris Seferovic continuing as a lone forward.

"We're in a situation where we need a win against Brazil on and we will focus and do whatever we can to try and win". It will be their 8th World Cup appearance, while Switzerland's 11th appearance.


Xhaka was born to Kosovan-Albanian parents and his father Ragip spent three-and-a-half years in prison for demonstrating against the Communist Yogoslavia rule in Kosovo.

Switzerland held Brazil to a 1-1 draw in their opening match, while Serbia beat Costa Rica 1-0 to top the group after one round.

It is not a mistake current coach Mladen Krstajic intends to repeat and the Lazio man - who has reportedly attracted the interest of Real Madrid - was lively against Costa Rica.

Such displays have angered some Serbian fans, who often wear T-shirts bearing the map of Kosovo with the Serbian flag on it.

Serbia made a flying start and Mitrovic forced Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer into an early save with a close-range header.

Switzerland came right back into the game seven minutes after halftime thanks to Xhaka's fulminating strike after a rebound fell nicely into his path.

Serbia were making all the forays in and around the offensive third. "So we have two coaches from Bosnia-Herzegovina representing different teams at the World Cup".

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