Chile may have made a winning start to their South Africa 2010 campaign but defender Ismael Fuentes warns that another three points is the minimum requirement from their second game against Switzerland if they are to stay on course for the last 16.
Fuentes, who watched his side's 1-0 win over Honduras from the bench, said that Group H had been thrown wide open by Switzerland's 1-0 defeat of European champions Spain – making the section tighter than first predicted. The 28-year-old told FIFA: "We know that our chances of reaching the next round hinge to a large extent on this game. Switzerland caught Spain by surprise and that's kind of turned the group on its head. As far as we're concerned it would have been better the other way round but that’s the way it is.
"There's not much difference between the sides to be honest. Anyone can win the group from this position, even Honduras. That's why it's so important to win and pick up as many points as possible." Looking ahead to Monday's meeting with the Swiss in Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth, Fuentes added: "They are a very physical team and it's sure to be a testing game. We've been looking at their tactics too and we know how to stop them." Since the Argentine Marcelo Bielsa's arrival as coach, Chile have received nothing but praise for their adventurous style.
"That's what we work towards," said Fuentes, who cited the contribution of forwards Alexis Sanchez and Humberto Suazo. "With Alexis and Chupete in such great form it's understandable that people sit up and take notice of what they're doing. We know what we have to do, though, and we're going about it as well as we possibly can."
Last at the world finals at France 1998, Chile's impressive qualifying form – they finished second in South America – has raised expectations among the home fans. A further source of motivation for Bielsa's charges is their desire to bring some cheer to the public back home after the earthquake that struck the country in February. "We are well aware of the great responsibility that comes with the fans putting their trust in us, and we are more than happy to accept it," said the Universidad Catolica man, who started in eight of his side's South Africa 2010 qualifiers and has won 29 caps in all. "We've even brought with us a flag that survived the earthquake and every time we feel tired or down we just look at it and it lifts our spirits."
We've brought a flag that survived the earthquake and every time we feel tired or down we just look at it and it lifts our spirits
When it comes to forecasting how far he and his countrymen might go at this FIFA World Cup™, Fuentes adopts a cautious tone, however, aware that motivation alone is not enough when it comes to taking on the world's best. "We need to be watchful," he warned. "We need to go step by step, just as we did during the qualifiers. Right now we're thinking about Switzerland, then we'll turn our thoughts to Spain, and after that we'll just have to wait and see. Make no mistake, though, we'll be doing everything we can to go as far as we can."