Swiss tackle first Olympic football game since 1928
It's been a long wait: Switzerland's first Olympic football match in 84 years kicks off on Thursday as men's soccer gets under way at the 2012 London Summer Games.
The Swiss will face Gabon in a game at Newcastle’s St James’ Park that they are expected to win with ease.
Switzerland are considered favourites, along with Mexico, to advance from Group B.
The Swiss qualified for the Olympics after their under-21 team proved impressive as they gained a spot in the European Championships final last year, losing to Spain.
However, the team’s overall chances are hampered by the decision of professional teams not to release such top players as Yann Sommer and Xherdan Shaqiri.
Historically, Switzerland has won a total of 179 medals at past Olympic Games, including 45 gold.
The nation will be hoping to add to this count in areas such as tennis and cycling.
Wimbledon champ Roger Federer is a favourite to take gold in the men’s singles tourney, while he and partner Stanislaus Wawrinka are also given good chances for the doubles.
Cyclist Fabian Cancellara, meanwhile, is tipped for possible gold after bowing out of the Tour de France race earlier this month to be with his pregnant wife.
The Swiss are already winning plaudits — if not medals — away from the athletic arenas in London for their hospitality.
The 3,000-square-metre House of Switzerland in Glaziers Hall near London Bridge is receiving widespread kudos in the press for its lineup of free concerts, entertainment and events.