Bloemfontein proved to be the graveyard for Switzerland's FIFA World Cup™ hopes as their bid to reach the last 16 ended in a frustrating goalless draw with Honduras. While the Swiss would rue their impotence in front of goal, the Central Americans were guilty of missing a host of gilt-edged chances on the night, as the curtain came down on their South African experience.
All four sides in Group H could conceivably still have qualified heading into this clash at the Free State Stadium, although Honduras, still without a win or a goal, had a huge mountain to climb. In simple terms, both sides needed a win. A thoroughly uninspiring opening spell was, thankfully, brought to an end in the tenth minute when Switzerland, who entered the match still with a chance of finishing top of their group, began to take the initiative. A neat one-two between Gokhan Inler and Tranquillo Barnetta sliced open the Honduras defence but the latter could only drag his shot wide of the target.
The game had finally started to awake from its slumber and the Swiss No7, Barnetta, in for the suspended Valon Behrami, was playing a key role in that. Honduras, for their part, were lacking any real shape and when Reinaldo Rueda's side did attack, they were guilty of overplaying their passes, with their limited opportunities regularly fizzling out as quickly as they had begun.
Barnetta switched flanks on the half-hour to try his luck against Mauricio Sabillon, but still Switzerland were unable to make any headway. They did, at least, have chances to break the deadlock – Barnetta's cross found the feet of Derdiyok, but his half-hearted swing at the ball allowed the attack to be easily swallowed up by the Honduras defence. Then, two minutes from the break, Derdiyok was given the opportunity to make amends, this time turning provider, but Blaise Nkufo got it all wrong at the far post.
The second half thankfully heralded a more positive spell of play, and Honduras could have edged themselves in front after 53 minutes, when Edgar Alvarez dropped a delightful ball onto the head of David Suazo. But the bustling striker failed to find the target with what was arguably the best opportunity of the match. Derdiyok should have done better with a right-foot shot shortly after the hour, as the Swiss stepped things a gear, largely thanks to the half-time introduction of Hakan Yakin.
That said, it was Honduras who carved out the next real chance of the game when Suazo, breaking at pace, picked out Alvarez's forward burst, only for the Honduran's strike to be brilliantly tipped over by Diego Benaglio. Switzerland were leaving themselves vulnerable to the counter-attack as they piled forward in numbers in search of the goal that would see them through to the last 16, and were thankful for some poor finishing on the part of the Central Americans, with Alvarez as guilty as anyone.
As the game opened up, twice substitute Alex Frei went close for the Swiss, while Stephan Lichsteiner was not far away with a fierce right-footed shot. Honduras, who could claim to have had the better chances in a frustrating second period, almost profited from some good work from Georgie Welcome in the dying minutes, but in the end neither side could break the deadlock before the final whistle sounded on their FIFA World Cup dreams.