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Switzerland Check: Ati-Zigi keeps 1st clean sheet afterAFCON, Afriyie loses spot in starting XI

Although the Swiss league is definitely one of the smaller leagues in Europe, it is also recognized as a stepping stone to the really big leagues. Several players have laid the foundations for a great career in Europe's best leagues. But what about the Ghanaians who want to use the league as a springboard right now? A weekly insight.

Lawrence Ati-Zigi and Daniel Afriyie

This season has not been Lawrence Ati-Zigi's best – at least compared to last year when he won the award for the best goalkeeper in the Swiss Football League. Shortly before the AFCON, he had to give up his position in goal for the Black Stars to Richard Ofori, and his statistics in the Swiss league are currently not quite as good as they were last season.

Since returning from the Africa Cup, Ati-Zigi has not been doing particularly well either. His team picked up just one point from five games since Ati-Zigi's return. This negative streak came to an end last weekend when they finally won against Stade Lausanne-Ouchy thanks to a goal in the 95th minute.

Ati-Zigi himself was out of action for a long time against the league's bottom club, but made one sensational save and also had a good game with a few other clearances. Overall, a strong performance that gives hope that Ati-Zigi and his team will find their way back to their best.

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The 1.65m tall striker moved from Hearts of Oak to FC Zurich in January last year. In 27 games for the club, Afriyie has managed just two goals and three assists. Both goals were scored last August. Afriyie has been repeatedly criticized by fans and the media for his performances.

Nevertheless, he has mostly played from the start under coach Bo Henriksen in recent weeks. It has now been two weeks since he left the club for FSV Mainz 05 in the Bundesliga. Under the new coaching duo, however, Afriyie is clearly no longer on the same level as he was under Henriksen.

A week ago, he didn't make the starting line-up and this weekend, too, he had to start on the bench. In the match against Lugano, he was substituted for an 18-year-old in the 72nd minute. In his just over 18 minutes, he managed six touches of the ball, but no really noteworthy actions.

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The likelihood of his time in Zurich coming to an end in July is increasing if he doesn't start scoring goals soon – especially with the new sporting director of FC Zurich, who is currently leaving no stone unturned.

Like Essiam, the center-back also moved from Berekum Chelsea to Basel. However, with one exception, he had previously played for Berekum's second team. Adjetey is facing exactly the same scenario in Basel, having played just two games for the first team, but 25 games for the second team in the third-highest Swiss league.

At the moment, however, it looks as if the 20-year-old will be carefully introduced to the professional team. Last weekend, however, Adjetey wasn't nominated for the match day squad of the first team – although Basel traveled to FC Yverdon with a rather young squad.

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Adjetey played in the second team instead. During his team's 1:0 defeat against the second team of FC Zurich, he played 90 minutes on the pitch.

The center midfielder was loaned to the second-highest Swiss league last August from FC Ashdod in Israel. He has been a regular at FC Aarau since the beginning and has impressed with his performances.

Last week, he injured himself during the warm-up and had to be substituted after 14 minutes. There were great concerns that FC Aarau's key player had suffered a more serious injury. Fortunately, this was not the case and Pappoe played 90 minutes against FC Wil.

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He struggled at the start, as the opposition had obviously identified him as a strength and pressed him hard. Later in the game, he dealt with this better and was also able to make an offensive impact. All in all, a solid game.

Pappoe is due to return to Israel at the end of the season, but it is quite possible that he will head straight to a higher league from there.

The 1.92m tall center-back moved to Israel from Pudu Mighty Jet in 2019. He played for a total of three different clubs before becoming unemployed last August.

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Since Tuesday, Acquah is also under contract with FC Aarau in the second-highest Swiss league. He was not in the squad for the first two games since his arrival.

During his team's draw against FC Wil, he was allowed to sit on the bench for the first time, but watched the entire match from there.

The center midfielder moved from Berekum Chelsea to FC Basel in January 2022. The 20-year-old, who is regarded as a great talent, has not yet been able to establish himself there and was loaned to Stade Lausanne-Ouchy, another Super League club, in September 2023. He played nine games for the newly promoted club before suffering a serious shoulder injury.

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Essiam is currently undergoing recovery work following surgery. While he was said to be out for the rest of the season, it now starts to look good that Essiam will return this season. FC Basel did not remove him from the contingent list after the end of the transfer period. His return should therefore be expected in the coming weeks.

In August 2018, Nuhu made the leap from the West African Football Academy to Europe. At FC St. Gallen, where he is teammates with Ati-Zigi, he did not yet make his breakthrough.

In July 2022, he was loaned to Norwegian club KuPS for six months. His time in eastern Switzerland was also marked by numerous injuries, and in his five years at FC St. Gallen, he made just 39 appearances for the first team. So far this season, he has only made two appearances for the U21 team.

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FC St. Gallen were said to be open to selling Nuhu to another club in this winter transfer period, but they didn’t find a buyer. Last weekend, he was neither in the first team squad nor in the second team.

The 23-year-old left Dreams FC for Israel in 2019 as an uprising star. Just one year after his arrival in the Middle East, he then moved to FC Lucerne in Switzerland's top division.

He was never able to establish himself there and was loaned back to Israel for six months in 2022.

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Last July, the attacking midfielder was loaned out to FC Baden in the second-highest Swiss league, but unfortunately injured his ACL after just four minutes. Since then he has been out with a torn cruciate ligament and is working on his return.

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