Top coach leads Swiss to victory

2010-06-16 16:22

Spain 0

Switzerland 1

Twice voted World Coach of the Year, German-born mentor Ottmar

Hitzfeld once more wrote his name in gold as he guided Switzerland to a historic

victory over Spain in this afternoon’s 2010 Fifa World Cup match.

His guidance of the Swiss to this milestone is an addition as well

as an introduction into national team coaching following a glittering career as

club coach where he won almost everything on offer on the European and global

stage with Swiss and German clubs.

Today’s victory came thanks to his faith in 23-year-old Gelson

Fernandes who arrived in Switzerland as a five-year-old 18 years ago.

The former Under-21 skipper – whom the coach had fielded in six out

of 10 of his country’s World Cup qualifiers – capitalised on a melee in front of

Ike Casilas’s goal and rolled the ball into the net in the 52nd minute,

following a goalless first stanza.

This saw him walk away with the coveted man

of the match award.

And what’s more, Hitzfeld achieved this feat in front of one of the

most famous sons of Switzerland, Fifa’s Il Capo di tuti Capi – boss of all

bosses – Sepp Blatter who sat next to Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini in the

presidential suite with KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize, and eThekwini City mayor Obed

Mlaba behind.

Coming into this match, expectations were that Spain would walk all

over their opponents given their world rankings of number 2 and 24


Barcelona and Real Madrid’s dominance of the Spanish La Liga was

also obvious from the fact that only three out of the 11 players that started

for the European champions were not from these two giants.

David Villa, David Silva (both Valencia) and Villareal’s Joan

Capdevila were the only players who were not from the two giants of Spanish


So talented is this side that even Liverpool’s marksman Fernando

Torres – regarded by many as one of the deadliest predators in the game of the

pigskin – did not get a look-in in Vicente Le Bosque’s starting line-up and was

only good for the bench.

Hitzfeld’s side was prepared to sit back and soak in the pressure

that Spain threw at them.

It was partly because of this approach that the only real goal

scoring chance came only in the 23rd minute when Gerard Pique was sent through,

sold a defender a dummy and sent in a low shot that Swiss goalkeeper Diego

Benaglio blocked with his thigh.

This seemed to get Switzerland out of slumber land as they started

forging forward which resulted in them getting a free kick outside the penalty


Casillas – one of the best goalkeepers in the world – had to block

Reto Ziegler’s shot twice as the ball took a wicked bounce just before


Half an hour into the match, Andres Iniesta took one of his

trademark runs, cut through the defence and was brought down just outside the

penalty area prompting English referee Howard Webb to poke a yellow card into

the face of Stephen Grichting.

Villa wasted the resultant free kick though blasting the ball

against the meat wall, only resulting in a corner kick.

The second half followed the same pattern as the first, which had

seen Spain with 66 percent ball possession to Switzerland’s 34 percent.

However, once more, the adage that football is not a boxing match

and cannot be won by points but goals, prevailed.


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