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LiveSoccerTV.com goes a place down in Group H of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and this time, we stop in Switzerland, the home of FIFA.
Switzerland – officially known as the Swiss Confederation – is a country located in the western part of the European continent. Its neighboring countries are Germany, France, Italy, Austria, and Liechtenstein.
Switzerland does not possess a vast territory, and it is ranked in 136th position in the world with a total area of about 41,284 km2. When it comes to estimating the entire population of the country, Switzerland comes in 94th position according to a 2009 census, as it is said to contain a little bit more than 7.7 million people.
The country co-hosted the European Championship with Austria in 2008, but the Swiss national football team – which is nicknamed “Schweizer Nati” in German, and “La Nati” in French – couldn’t qualify for the tournament’s knockout stages due to two consecutive winless matches in the group stage.
It is the 9th time Switzerland enter the FIFA World Cup finals, but they will hope to excel in South Africa, seeing that they haven’t been capable of surpassing the second round of the tournament since 1962. The Schweizer Nati made a record in the 2006 World Cup, as they were the only country in the finals not to concede a single goal throughout their run in the tournament.
The 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa only allows 13 spots for European countries, and so, this is how the qualification process in European zone went: Round 1 saw all 53 teams from the continent divided into eight groups of six teams, and a group of five teams. Afterward, the nine group winners obtained automatic tickets for the finals, while the eight best runners-up entered play-off matches to decide the four remaining places.
Switzerland knew that going for the play-offs would be risky, thus, they decided to give their all directly in the first qualifying round.
The Schweizer Nati were seeded in Pot C ahead of the qualifiers, and as a consequence of the drawing event which took place in the South African city of Durban on November 25, 2007 Switzerland were placed in Group 2 along with Greece, Latvia, Israel, Luxembourg, and Moldova.
Switzerland’s first qualifying match against Israel – which was scheduled to take place on September 6, 2008 at the Ramat Gan Stadium – ended in a 2-2 draw. The Swiss were having a 2-0 lead on 56 minutes, but Liverpool star Benayoun pulled a goal back for the Israelis, before his country mate Sahar scored an injury time equalizer to level the score line.
Four days later, Switzerland got defeated 2-1 at home to Luxembourg, in Zurich. On October 11, 2008 the Schweizer Nati got their first 3 points of the qualifiers after a 2-1 win over Latvia, thanks to goals from Frei and Kufo.
On October 15 that same year, Switzerland beat the Greeks 2-1 away to the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, as Frei and Kufo were again on target for their side. 2-0 was the final result of their next qualifier against Moldova in Chisinau, and again, Frei had his name registered on the scoring sheet in that particular game. The return leg in Geneva had the same score line in favor of the Swiss, with Kufo joining Frei to contribute to their team’s success at home.
On September 5, 2009 Switzerland won 2-0 over Greece at the St. Jakob-Park in Basel, but four days later, the Swiss were held to a 2-2 draw by Latvia in Riga. About a month later, Switzerland had their biggest victory in their qualifiers when they crushed Luxembourg 3-0 away to the Stade Josy Barthel. This time, goals came from Senderos (who scored an early double) and Hugger who closed the scoring on 22 minutes.
In October last year, the Schweizer Nati narrowly secured an automatic place in South Africa by hanging on to a 0-0 home draw against Israel. Finally, Switzerland topped their table with 21 points after 10 games– placing theirselves ahead of second-placed team Greece, who had to enter the play-offs.
Switzerland landed in Pot 4 before the final draw for the 2010 World Cup group stage in South Africa. Denmark, France, Greece, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia were therefore countries the Swiss could not expect in their group, as they were all packed in the same Pot.
The draw happened at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on December 4, 2009 and it was within this event that the Schweizer Nati were placed in Group H, alongside top seeds Spain, CONCACAF members Honduras, and South Americans Chile.
With their simply-satisfying qualification for the tournament’s finals, Switzerland certainly have reasons to believe that they can cross the group stage, even if they manage to do so with a lot of struggle.
Match-day 1: Spain vs Switzerland
Switzerland will fight Euro 2008 champions Spain in their first match of the 2010 World Cup. This game will start at 16:00 local time on June 16, at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
Spain are arguably the most organized, powered, and admired side in the world at the moment. They are very hard to beat, and their confidence is what makes the foundation of their mentality.
The Swiss are not yet experts in football, obviously. Wanting to play an attacking game against the Spanish will be very dangerous. Everyone knows how frightening it is to see La Roja on the counter, and as a result, being a negative side against Spain will be a great option for the Schweizer Nati.
Match-day 2: Chile vs Switzerland
Switzerland will then have to play again as the visitors when they face Chile at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
Chile finished five points ahead of Argentina in their qualification for the 2010 World Cup, and they even defeated Los Albicelestes 1-0 in Round 10.
Bearing this in mind, the Swiss should have an idea of how tough the Chileans can be; but nevertheless, losing will not be an option for them. Big South American teams are often referred to as tactical teams, and so, this will be the time for the Schweizer Nati to show their real methodological skills.
Match-day 3: Switzerland vs Honduras
Finally, Switzerland will play as the home side when they meet Honduras at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.
Honduras are a rising side from CONCACAF, and they aren’t ready to go down again in the group stage of the World Cup. It is only the second time Honduras participate in the FIFA World Cup, and earning the maximum amount of points will be nothing but a huge wish for them.
Beating Switzerland would eventually increase their number of points in Group H; consequently, the Swiss will have to fight back at full strength to ensure they keep their name in the tournament.
Switzerland do not have a national team composed of great stars playing in top European clubs. Critically, they will have to use extra strength, should they remain in the competition after the group stage period; but they can put their hope in their outstanding forwards Blaise Kufo, and Alexander Frei.
The Congolese-born striker had a nice share in Switzerland’s qualification for the 2010 World Cup. With about 30 appearances for his country, he possesses an average record of a goal in every four matches; and naturally as a front player, the forward is longing for more influence in his national team.
He seems to enjoy a nice partnership with country mate Alexander Frei, and given Kufo’s experience acquired through his numerous club transfers, he should be a strong tool for La Nati.
The Swiss striker was very instrumental for his country during the 2010 World Cup qualifiers. Frei scored two goals in the 2006 World Cup, and he also featured for Switzerland in the Euro 2008, despite missing most of the tournament due to an injury.
Frei has appeared over 73 times for the Switzerland senior national football team, and he is his country’s all-time top scorer with about 40 goals.
His influence in South Africa this summer might be extremely useful for the Schweizer Nati, and he could captain his side, if ever he stays fit throughout his country’s run in this World Cup tournament.
Marco Woelfli; Johnny Leoni; Diego Benaglio
Christoph Spycher; Reto Ziegler; Mario Eggimann; Steve von Bergen; Stephane Grichting; Philippe Senderos; Stephan Lichtsteiner
Marco Padalino; Xherdan Shaqiri; Tranquillo Gelson Fernandes; Pirmin Schwegler; Benjamin Huggel; Gokhan Inler; Valon Behrami
Hakan Yakin; Marco Streller; Eren Derdiyok; Blaise Nkufo; Alexander Frei
Ottmar Hitzfeld: “We are in a very difficult group”
The Switzerland head coach Ottmar Hitzfeld admitted that Switzerland were surrounded by fierce countries in Group H. In his opinion, avoiding mistakes will be the key to their qualification into the knockout phase of the 2010 World Cup. Below is Ottmar Hitzfeld’s quote on this matter:
“For sure, Spain are the favorites in our group. The Spanish are the best team in Europe and in the world, so the other three of us in the group will definitely be aiming for the second place.”
“Honduras also did very well in qualifying, so they deserve to go through the next round… they are very strong technically. Chile have developed into a very strong team defensively, and it is their technical abilities which makes them truly dangerous.”
“For us, going through will be a question of getting ready and analyzing every little detail so that we can avoid making mistakes when we get started.”
The Swiss have qualified nine times for the FIFA World Cup in all, but the highest stage they could ever reach in the tournament was the quarter-finals. Below is the record of Switzerland in the World Cup competition:
2010: Qualified as participants
2006, 1994: Round 2
1966, 1962, 1950: Round 1
1954, 1938, 1934: Quarter-finals
Follow Switzerland's progress throughout the 2010 FIFA World Cup on LiveSoccerTV.com as the site covers the entire competition for your entertainment!