Hitzfeld looks to unusual source for Swiss boost
The Swiss have lost their opening two Group G qualifiers and face a similarly troubled Wales team tomorrow needing to win to retain any slender hope of reaching the finals. Not afraid to try the unconventional, former Bayern Munich coach Hitzfeld has sought out help from an unexpected source to inspire his team.
Two years ago, after a shock loss to minnows Luxembourg, the Swiss team were treated to a motivational pep-talk from tennis legend and national hero Roger Federer. That seemed to have the desired effect as the team went on to qualify for the FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa.
Now, after last month's loss to England was followed by defeat in Montenegro on Friday, Hitzfeld has called on the services of four-time Olympic ski jump gold medallist Simon Ammann.
"Losing to Luxembourg was a real low point, so we invited Roger Federer to talk to us about his success," Hitzfeld said. "He talked for half an hour and it was a very good evening. We thought we would try it again and we had the opportunity to talk to Simon last night. He gave us quite a talk and he showed us the hill where he trains. It was something different and it was very good."
Hitzfeld also wants his team to learn lessons from the way they were dismantled in their 3-1 loss to England in their opening fixture. He said: "What we need is an English quality - team spirit. We were missing team spirit against Montenegro. With team spirit anything is possible."
Hitzfeld has come under fire for the way his team performed in the 1-0 defeat in Montenegro. But he retains full faith in his players and claims qualification is not yet beyond them although a win against Wales, who have also lost twice, is vital tomorrow.
He said: "We were unhappy but I cannot reproach my players for not fighting or running a lot. All we lacked was finishing. We created four or five clear-cut opportunities but we missed them. I did not see everything in the bad way that our media did. We have had some heavy criticism and we must live with it.
"It is up to us to change it into a positive reaction from the media. I am looking forward to playing the game and taking on the challenge. Both teams have zero points and it will be a tough challenge for both. One of these teams can qualify and it is our job to make sure it is Switzerland. I'd be sorry for Wales but we must do everything to make sure it is Switzerland."
Hitzfeld will restore fit-again first choice goalkeeper Diego Benaglio to his team in place of Marco Wolfli.