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Switzerland were the surprise package of 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying in Europe – and their most-capped player Martina Moser hopes a repeat showing could take them all the way to a debut finals.
In a tough group containing Russia and the Republic of Ireland, Switzerland came out on top, largely due to a surprise 3-0 win in Krasnoarmeysk. Their hopes of automatic qualifying were dashed in a two-legged play-off defeat by England, but in the repechage to decide which European side would meet a CONCACAF team for the last place in Germany, Switzerland stunned Denmark 3-1 on aggregate before Italy pipped them to earn a tie with the United States.
This time Denmark are in Switzerland's group, the UEFA Women's EURO 2013 semi-finalists joined by a side that made the last eight, Iceland, as well as Serbia, Israel and Malta in a tough section. With only the winners assured of qualification for Canada, Switzerland's most-capped player, Moser, knows it will not be easy as they prepare for their 21 September opener against Serbia in Nyon, five days before the trip to Iceland.
"There are no weak opponents; it's even difficult to play and beat teams like Malta or Israel when you are forced to take the game to them," Moser told UEFA.com. "But I think we have a strong team and we've developed further, and we have had the same team for a while now, so we know each other very well. Our group is not easy, but it could have been worse, so I hope we can fight for first place in our group, and qualify for the World Cup in 2015."
In a memorable 2012/13, Moser helped new club TSG 1899 Hoffenheim to promotion and passed Marisa Brunner's record of 78 Switzerland caps. Switzerland themselves ended a disappointing fourth in their UEFA Women's EURO 2013 qualifying group, having had high hopes of making the play-offs, but this year fortunes have improved. In the Cyprus Women's Cup, they beat EURO finalists Finland 3-2 and held the Netherlands 1-1, before an impressive 3-1 Nyon win against the eventual runners-up in Sweden, Norway.
They then held Finland 2-2 in Helsinki in their last game in June, and Moser is taking heart from those results. "We have learned a lot in 2013," the 27-year-old winger said. "We've managed to beat big teams, but have lost against smaller nations. You can see from the results we've achieved that we have developed further, so I hope we will do well in the World Cup qualifiers."
Moser is far from the only member of Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's squad based outside Switzerland, with other frequent flyers including FC Malmö's Ramona Bachmann, Lara Dickenmann of Olympique Lyonnais, ASD Torres CF's Sandy Mändly and 1. FFC Frankfurt's Ana Maria Crnogorčević.
"We have a lot of very good players who have made their name abroad, like in France and Sweden, even in Germany," said Moser, who has been playing in Germany since 2007. "If we continue on this path and players keep going abroad, then I think we will play an important role in the future."
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