Bloemfontein: After toppling
Spain in its World Cup opener, Switzerland wouldn`t have
thought its tournament would be hanging in the balance going
into its final Group H match tomorrow against Honduras.
The Swiss can still top the group or finish rock bottom.
But the path at least is clear: beat Honduras by two goals at
Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein and the Swiss are through
to the knockout round.
Chile, which plays Spain in a simulteneous game,
currently leads Group H on six points. Switzerland is level
with Spain on three points, although the Spanish have a better
goal difference. Honduras is last on zero points.
Switzerland upset European champion Spain 1-0 in their
opener in Durban before going down to ten men and losing to
Chile 1-0 in Port Elizabeth. In both matches, coach Ottmar
Hitzfeld`s team relied on a solid defense and opportunistic
Those tactics look set to change against Honduras in a
game that Hitzfeld said "everybody expects Switzerland to win
"Against Spain we were the underdogs and concentrated on
defending and hoping for a successful counterattack," Hitzfeld
said. "Against Chile, we were forced to defend after our
player (Valon) Behrami had been sent off.”
"Against Honduras we must win with a two-goal difference
to make sure we reach the second stage of the World Cup, and I
am very positive that we are going to do it."
Behrami is suspended after his red card, and Switzerland
is also likely to be without defender Philippe Senderos, who
sprained his right ankle against Spain.
Still, Switzerland has reason to be confident. The
veteran squad boasts nine holdovers from the 2006 World Cup
squad that reached the round of 16 and was eliminated on
penalties by Ukraine despite not having conceded a goal over
It showed similar grit and resolve against Spain and
Chile, and now finds itself facing a Honduras side that has
done little to shake the tag of worst team in the group after
a 1-0 loss to Chile and a 2-0 defeat by Spain.
The Central Americans have sputtered offensively, failing
to create many solid scoring opportunities, and they`re
unlikely to get many opportunities against a team that had set
a World Cup record of 559 consecutive minutes without
conceding a goal before Chile`s winner.
Hitzfeld, however, was taking nothing for granted.
"They are very dangerous in attack, just like Spain and
Chile. But they seem not to be as precise in their game as
Chile and Spain," he said. "They are a very technical side
that possesses undeniable offensive assets."
"On the defensive end the Hondurans sometimes are a bit
disorganised, which creates holes that we have to take
Honduras can still qualify for the knockout stage with a
big win against Switzerland and some luck, and coach Reinaldo
Rueda said his team will fight as long as there`s a chance to
"We must go out to win, and dignity must emerge," Rueda
"We must take into account that we still mathematically
have a faint hope of qualifying."