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Nerves paralysed Swiss, says coach Hitzfeld

Sports Desk |
Update: 2010-06-25 18:13:00

BLOEMFONTEIN: Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said Friday that nerves had plagued his team as they went in search of the two goals needed to ensure they reached the World Cup knockout phase.

The Swiss failed to find the net in a goalless stalemate in Bloemfontein as Spain and Chile secured the two qualifying spots in Group H, sending them home despite a shock opening 1-0 win against Spain that sparked great hopes.

Hitzfeld, who said an early goal would have settled his side, added that nerves had affected the quality of passing, especially the delivery of the final ball.

"Our strategy was right. I think we failed to deliver because there was too much pressure. We had to score twice and this created so much nervousness in my team," the disappointed coach told reporters after the match.

"It was a burden for the team and it became a bigger burden the longer the game lasted.

"I`m very disappointed myself because I had a great mission with my team. We wanted to reach the round of 16 and we haven`t been able to do that."

He said his team`s defence had been "excellent," praising goalkeeper Diego Benaglio, but said Switzerland had struggled in midfield and attack.

The veteran German coach said if his team had eked out a point against Chile in their previous match, which they lost 1-0 after being reduced to 10 men, they would be through to the final 16.

But he added he would take away good memories from the win against Spain.
"The win against Spain is a win for eternity," he said, adding it was an "incredible achievement."

"This match is there to stay in the memory of all the fans," he said.

Early in the tournament Switzerland set a new World Cup record of 559 minutes played without conceding a goal until Chile breached their defence but coming into the match against Honduras there were doubts about their ability to score the goals they required.

Switzerland managed 17 shots against the central American minnows in Bloemfontein but just five on target as they pushed forward but they could not find the net at the Free State Stadium.

The Swiss, who reached the last 16 in Germany in 2006 before losing on penalties to Ukraine, were left sprawled on the turf at the final whistle.

BDST: 1631hrs, June 26, 2010


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