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It'll be Hott for the Toon in Basel.

Newcastle United have been warned not to fall asleep in the land of the cuckoo clock or their UEFA Cup dreams will turn into a nightmare.

Former United full-back Marc Hottiger is now back coaching in his native Switzerland.

And he believes that the tie between his former club and FC Basel is so tight that he cannot split them.

Speaking from Switzerland on the eve of tomorrow's second round first leg tie, Hottiger said: "Knowing what I know about the two teams, it's 50-50 in my view as to who will eventually go through.

"But you can tell all my friends back in Newcastle that United could easily go out if they are not up to scratch.

"After Basel's experience in Europe last season when they beat Celtic and got the draw that knocked Liverpool out of the Champions League, it means that they do not fear anyone.

"Certainly, they are not frightened of United like some of the other teams from Switzerland would be.

"Everyone knows that Basel have a big team physically, but they are also mentally strong.

"Christian Gross has a good blend of experience and youth through his side but it is Basel's attackers like Hakan Yakin, Christian Gimenez, Julio Rossi and Switzerland's young rising star Marco Streller who will be the biggest threat to my old team."

After he left United in the mid-1990s, Hottiger spent two years at Everton and then three years with home-town club Lausanne

He next returned to Sion, the club he left his native country to join United under Kevin Keegan, and after coaching a minor third division outfit, he now looks after the under-16 team for Neuchatel Xamax, one of the Swiss teams already knocked out of the UEFA Cup earlier this season.

Hottiger added: "Believe it or not, Neuchatel is Newcastle in French, so my time on Tyneside is never far from my mind.

"Unfortunately, I will be coaching my young players tomorrow night and I won't be able to get to Basel for the game.

"However, I'm hoping to get to Newcastle for the second leg at the end of November.

"Apart from Philippe Albert, I have no contact with any of my former Newcastle team-mates but all of my memories of my stay at St James' Park are good ones."
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Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 5, 2003
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