There appears to be no stopping FC Zurich in Switzerland’s Women's Nationalliga A at present. Last season the side won all 25 of their league games, boasting an astonishing goal difference of 145 for and just nine against, lifting the title well before the campaign’s end.
Dorjee Tsawa has been lauded for his success since taking over as coach in February 2011, helping lift the side to new heights. “They were looking for a coach at the time and I was able to combine the post with my work as fitness trainer with Zurich’s men’s team,” the 37-year-old told FIFA.com. “So on impulse I just agreed to do it, even though I wanted to coach a men’s side. I have no regrets now of course.”
Integration builds success
This season Tsawa’s charges have picked up where they left off last term. Still unbeaten domestically, Zurich stormed through the UEFA Women’s Champions League qualifying round with a string of victories. “I believe there are three main reasons behind our success,” said Tsawa, a Swiss native with Tibetan roots. “Good integration within the club; long-serving, highly-qualified employees and officials; and the availability of infrastructure and resources specifically for women’s football.”
In concrete terms, that means “we’re an integrated part of FC Zurich and use the club’s synergies, resources and know-how, but we have structures specifically for women’s football,” Tsawa continued. “Obviously hard work and training, training, training too. It’s a lot of fun. The women are passionately involved and that always makes things enjoyable as a coach.”
Two recruits, neither of whom are still at the club this term, also played an important role in the upturn. “When former Germany internationals Inka Grings and Sonja Fuss joined us in September 2011 they brought a winning mentality into the team with them. That’s remained with the side and we’ll be working hard to make sure it continues to stay there,” Tsawa said.
“Even without those two we still have an above-average team compared to other sides in Switzerland," he added. "Of course we’ve lost their wealth of experience and quality, but we’ve been able to compensate for that in Switzerland.”
Despite, or perhaps because of Zurich’s domestic dominance, Tsawa is hungry for greater competition in the league in order to be able to compete on a more even footing in Europe. “You improve when you’re really challenged and forced to go to your limits,” he explained. “Unfortunately that’s not always the case in games, even though I demand that we give everything for 90 minutes. But if you’re six goals ahead it’s only natural that you ease off a bit.”
A former player himself, having laced his boots for FC St. Gallen and Zurich among others, Tsawa believes other teams need to improve and compete for the title in order to make the league more attractive.
“We can’t make it more exciting by ourselves as we want to win every game," Tsawa said. "We hope that other teams are able to catch up. It’s easier to make up ground than to stay at the top. If you don’t have any genuine rivals then it’s difficult to keep progressing and to keep playing at the same high level.”
Canada in the crosshairs
In spite of the league’s imbalance, Tsawa is convinced women’s football is on the right track in Switzerland and is optimistic about the country’s prospects in FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ qualifying, which starts in September.
“The Swiss national side have got a good coach in Martina Voss-Tecklenburg,” Tsawa said. “She’s already got a lot of experience and there are also increasing numbers of players playing regularly abroad. It’s important to be able to play at a high level and not to just sit on the bench.”
As positive as that sounds, the Zurich strategist is convinced women’s football still has a long way to go in the Alpine nation. “I think Switzerland have a realistic chance in the World Cup qualifiers, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.” Just how much will become clearer come September.