It takes a certain amount of willpower to become a champion, but it is clearly something Haris Seferovic has in abundance. The composed marksman has fired the Swiss into the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2009 and is now aiming to go all the way and finish the job tomorrow.
"I can't believe we're in the final, but the dream isn't over yet. Now we want the trophy!" said Seferovic, who made time for an exlcusive interview with FIFA.com on Friday. His positive demeanour says it all, with pure determination radiating from the young Grasshopper Zurich star. And it is exactly the kind of attribute that will be required to knock the seemingly invincible Nigerians off their pedestal in Sunday's final in Abuja.
The Schweizer Nati, who are taking part in their first ever FIFA U-17 World Cup, booked their place in the decider with a thumping 4-0 victory over Colombia in the semis. Seferovic, who celebrated his comeback from suspension by scoring in that emphatic victory, believes that his side's display of individual class paired with physical strength and tactical nous came at just the right time. "We set a new standard in the semis. If we keep playing like that then we're almost unbeatable."
The Swiss-born youngster with Bosnian roots is one of coach Dany Ryser's trump cards and names Swedish international Zlatan Ibrahimovic as his biggest influence. And just like the Barcelona hitman, coincidentally also of Bosnian heritage, Seferovic boasts the kind of intelligence and instinct for goal that causes nightmares for opposing defenders. With four goals in Nigeria so far, the Swiss No9 is a strong candidate to claim the adidas Golden Shoe, although Seferovic clearly has an even bigger prize in his sights: "Of course I want to win the Golden Shoe, but more important is the World Cup itself. It would be perfect if I could do both."
As one of the most promising talents at the tournament, the Nigerian back line will be paying the 17-year-old close attention in the final. Seferovic is the type of player who can make a difference and his thirst for goals could be precisely what is needed to inflict the Golden Eaglets with their first defeat since 2003. "At the moment I'm in top form. I feel strong and I know that I'll get my fair share of chances during the match. Things are going well at the moment, that's why I'm scoring so often," said Seferovic, who is wearing a glistening earring as a good luck charm. "We're not thinking about the fact that the game is against Nigeria. We told ourselves that no matter who we play against, our aim is to win the trophy!"
Nonetheless, Seferovic knows he will not be able to dethrone the holders all on his own. Just as well, then, that his strike partner provides him with the perfect foil. "Nassim Ben Khalifa and I are a dream partnership. We know each other inside out and know exactly where the other is going to be and where to play the ball." Ben Khalifa, who has notched four goals himself over the course of the tournament, has been able to develop his understanding with Seferovic at club level with Grasshoppers. The talented duo provide the perfect spearhead for Dany Ryser's ruthless front line.
"Nassim and Haris are a class above. Together with our strong defence they make us a very difficult side to beat," defender Ricardo Rodriguez told FIFA.com. The team is understandably proud of the way in which they have reached the final as underdogs, playing incisive attacking football throughout. Seferovic, however, knows that it is important to enjoy the good times, as things don't always go quite as smoothly in football: "The run we're on at the moment is fantastic. We all get on really well, everyone is fighting for one another and we're enjoying the euphoria of the fans."
There is just one obstacle preventing the Swiss from writing history by winning their first ever FIFA U-17 World Cup. Although they have become firm favourites among the neutrals with their smart attacking displays, the Nati now face the task of proving themselves in front of 60,000 partisan home supporters. However, Seferovic's closing words would have you expect nothing less from the men in red and white: "We'll do it," he said. Clearly the Swiss frontman means business.