Swiss coach confident despite differential
Switzerland will be a favourite for the first time at the World Cup when the team faces Honduras in a crucial Group H match Friday in Bloemfontein, coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said Wednesday.
The Swiss upset Spain 1-0 in their group opener in Durban on June 16 before losing to Chile in Port Elizabeth 1-0. Chile, which has also beaten last-place Honduras, leads the group with six points, three ahead of both Switzerland and Spain.
Switzerland will make the round of 16 if it wins and Spain fails to beat Chile.
"Everybody expects Switzerland to win easily," Hitzfeld said. "I admit, this time it is not our opponents who are the favourites. But Honduras is a strong team."
Group H is one of the most tightly contested with Chile, Switzerland and Spain all having the possibility of finishing with six points.
"Against Spain we were the underdogs and concentrated on defending and hoping for a successful counter-attack," 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."
If Switzerland and Spain are level on points, goal difference and goals scored, the Swiss will go through because they have beaten Spain.
"Of course, we will be interested in knowing the scores from the Spain-Chile game," Hitzfeld said. "But not before halftime. We want to fully concentrate on our game."
The former Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich coach said despite being without a point, Honduras will not make it easy for his team.
"I have studied Honduras very well and scrutinized the team," the German coach said. "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."
Switzerland qualified for the knockout stage of the World Cup in Germany four years ago, losing to Ukraine on penalties.