2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™

11 June - 11 July

2010 FIFA World Cup™

Swiss retain hope in defeat


Blaise Nkufo called it "a huge disappointment", Stephan Lichtsteiner said he was "massively frustrated" and Steve Von Bergen felt it was "a real shame". A 1-0 defeat by Chile in Monday's second Group H fixture has put a dent in Switzerland's hopes of reaching the Round of 16 at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.

For all the post-match dismay, however, the situation facing the Swiss in their final group game has not fundamentally changed. "Before it all started, we said we'd definitely need a win against Honduras to make the last 16. That remains the case," Benjamin Huggel told FIFA after the contest at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Following their shock victory over European champions Spain, avoiding defeat by Chile would have put the Swiss in a superb position ahead of their final group match. But the South Americans were, in Ottmar Hitzfeld's words, "more skilful than us". Following Valon Behrami's 31st-minute dismissal, the Swiss found it "unbelievably difficult against such hard-running opponents", the head coach added.

"We fought well, even with ten men," added Huggel, but Lichtsteiner acknowledged the physical cost. "Playing with 10 men and chasing the ball the whole time against a decent footballing side like Chile is always going to sap your strength." The Chileans mustered no fewer than 20 shots on goal, with the solitary goal of the afternoon claimed by substitute Mark Gonzalez with 15 minutes remaining.

We said we'd need a win against Honduras to make the last 16. That remains the case

"We're angry at the moment. But if we take all three points against Honduras, I'm certain we'll make the next stage," Von Bergen told FIFA.com after a capable stand-in display at centre-back for the injured Philippe Senderos. It is indeed the case that the Swiss can make the knockout stages "without outside help" as Huggel noted. "Despite this setback, I'm upbeat about our meeting with Honduras. We'll put this defeat behind us and recover as quickly as we can," said Hitzfeld, barely consoled by the knowledge that his team had set a new FIFA World Cup record after going 559 minutes at the finals without conceding a goal.

Thoughts now turn to Friday's final game in Bloemfontein. "We know we'll have to pose more of an attacking threat," Lichtsteiner acknowledged. "We still need to maintain our defensive stability," warned Von Bergen. "But if we go into the game with the same attitude, fight as hard as we did today, and take a few more risks in attack, we’ll make chances."

Huggel felt the Swiss would have the edge against Honduras thanks to "our excellent team spirit, and the character in this squad". He added: "It's in our own hands. We know we can qualify from the group with a win. I don't think we’ll have a problem with motivation." It was left to Von Bergen to add the final word: "We battle as a team, we win as a team, and we lose as a team. We've lost today, but against Honduras, all 23 of us will leave the field with our heads held high."

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