• Switzerland's news in English
 

Swiss seek fond farewell for 'Gottmar' Hitzfeld

Jonathan Fowler/AFP · 15 May 2014, 11:23

Published: 15 May 2014 11:23 GMT+02:00

In their third consecutive World Cup, the "Nati" are out to prove that their seventh place in FIFA's global rankings is not a statistical fluke.
   
The 65-year-old German Hitzfeld has set his sights on at least clearing Group E, where Switzerland face France, Ecuador and Honduras.
   
Reaching the last 16 would erase Switzerland's bad memories of 2010 in South Africa.
   
They were the only team to beat eventual champions Spain, winning 1-0 in their opening game, but then lost 1-0 to Chile and drew 0-0 with Honduras and so failed to reach the knockout stage.
   
That was a blow after their showing in Germany in 2006 under Hitzfeld's predecessor, Swiss icon Köbi Kuhn.
   
There, they finished top of their group, ahead of France, South Korea and Togo, but were knocked out on penalties by Ukraine in the next round.
   
Former Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich boss Hitzfeld has said the looming tournament will bring down the curtain on his three-decade coaching career.
   
Though his star fell after his failure to reach the 2012 European Championships, Hitzfeld rebounded and is now nicknamed "Gottmar" -- a play on the German for God.
   
Football is rivalled only by ice hockey and skiing as the Alpine country's top spectator sport.
   
Average crowds of 11,000 per match are small compared to many European leagues, but multiple Swiss champions and 2013 Europa League semi-finalists FC Basel pull in 28,000.
   
The country of 8.1 million also punches above its weight for players fed into the leagues of Germany, Italy, England and Spain.
   
Like Kuhn, Hitzfeld has tapped Switzerland's admired youth system, drawing the highly-rated squad that won the 2009 Under-17 World Cup -- Switzerland's only international trophy.
   
Among them are 22-year-old Haris Seferovic, at Real Sociedad, plus 21-year-olds Granit Xhaka of Borussia Monchengladbach and Pajtim Kasami of Fulham.
   
Like 22-year-old Bayern Munich winger Xherdan Shaqiri, the players are the Swiss version of the "rainbow" teams in Europe that have been reinvigorated by migrants
   
They are part of a Balkan migrant community which emerged when seasonal workers came from the former Yugoslavia in the 1970s and which expanded when Switzerland admitted refugees from the region's wars of the 1990s.
   
Fittingly, Hitzfeld's chosen successor, Lazio manager Vladimir Petkovic, is Yugoslav-born but spent much of his career in Italian-speaking Switzerland.
   
On the footballing front, the omens for Brazil are mixed, however.
   
A 16-match unbeaten streak -- including surprise defeats of Germany and Brazil in friendlies -- ended in November when they lost 2-1 in South Korea.
   
Nor was their World Cup qualifying run the toughest, with opponents in the shape of Albania, Cyprus, Iceland, Norway and Slovenia.
   
The Swiss came top despite being held to draws by Cyprus and Iceland -- who provided a stern lesson by clawing back from 4-1 down to level at 4-4.
   
To fine-tune their skills for Brazil, they set up home friendlies against Croatia, with whom they drew 2-2 in March, Jamaica in May and Peru two weeks before their opening World Cup match against Ecuador on June 15th.

Jonathan Fowler/AFP (news@thelocal.ch )

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
US penalizes UBS for dealing with 'terrorist'
Photo: UBS

US penalizes UBS for dealing with 'terrorist'

1 hour ago

UBS, Switzerland's largest bank, has agreed to pay American authorities $1.7 million to settle "apparent" violations of rules banning transactions benefiting officially designated terrorists, the US Treasury Department said on Thursday.

Wawrinka could face Murray in US Open
Switzerland's Wawrinka at last year's US Open. Photo: Getty Images North America/AFP

Wawrinka could face Murray in US Open

1 hour ago

World number one Novak Djokovic could meet eighth-seed Rafael Nadal in the US Open quarterfinals while Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka could meet in another quarterfinal under the US Open draw announced on Thursday.

Report confirms rising number of immigrants
Citizens gather in Appenzell Innerrhoden for an annual Landsgemeinde (assembly of the people). Photo: AFP/File

Report confirms rising number of immigrants

5 hours ago

Immigration is continuing to drive Switzerland’s growth in population, which rose by almost 100,000 to more than 8.2 million by the end of 2014, official government figures confirm.

Bern window smashing stunt promotes safety
Car is lowered into pool of water for window smashing demonstration. Photo: BFU

Bern window smashing stunt promotes safety

14 hours ago

Visitors to Bern were treated on Wednesday to the unusual sight of a man smashing his way out of a car submerged in a pool of water in front of the federal parliament.

Federer to defend Brisbane title in 2016
Photo: AFP/File

Federer to defend Brisbane title in 2016

15 hours ago

Switzerland's 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer and five-time major-winner Maria Sharapova will defend their Brisbane International titles in the lead-up to the Australian Open in January, organizers said on Thursday.

Lower tax revenues push Geneva's budget in red
Geneva Finance Minister Serge Dal Busco. Photo: Eugen Billard/Wikimedia Commons

Lower tax revenues push Geneva's budget in red

16 hours ago

The canton of Geneva is freezing new spending and delaying an initiative to hire new prison guards as lower than expected tax revenues this year are expected to send the government’s budget ballooning almost 250 million francs into the red.

Swiss airports to start spot bomb checks
Photo: Zurich airport

Swiss airports to start spot bomb checks

1 day ago

Passengers flying out of Swiss airports will potentially face an extra level of screening starting next week when a new process to detect explosives will go into effect.

Monsanto drops bid to buy Swiss rival Syngenta
Photo: AFP

Monsanto drops bid to buy Swiss rival Syngenta

1 day ago

US seed giant Monsanto dropped its campaign to acquire Syngenta on Wednesday, ending hopes to add a Swiss pesticides giant it had seen as key to expanding its global reach.

Where are Switzerland's priciest babysitters?
Swiss parents are paying double the European average of 8.70 francs (€8.07) per hour for babysitters. Photo: AFP/File

Where are Switzerland's priciest babysitters?

1 day ago

Parents living in Switzerland pay more for their babysitters than anyone else in Europe a new study shows, but which Swiss cantons are the most expensive? Read on to find out.

Stunning Swiss chateau goes under hammer
Hauteville Manor has been in the same family for 11 generations. Photo: AFP

Stunning Swiss chateau goes under hammer

1 day ago

An 18th century chateau with commanding views of Lake Geneva is up for sale and for an asking price said to be somewhere in the region of 50 million francs it could be on the market for a while.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

Photo: Federal Housing Office
National
Buying home in Switzerland is 'cheaper than renting'
National
Central bank to launch new high-tech banknotes — six years late
National
Swiss speed climber summits all 4,000m peaks in the Alps
National
Report: Switzerland is world's safest country (barring extreme sports)
National
Where are the top ten spots to visit in Switzerland for tourists?
National
Two Japanese climbers found dead after scaling Matterhorn's summit
National
High Geneva accommodation costs force unpaid UN intern to live in tent
National
Zurich farmer ordered to remove cow bells after noise complaints
National
Gays file criminal complaint against Swiss bishop over speech
National
The Expat Guide: Moving to Switzerland
National
Briton who ends life in Switzerland: 'Ideal shelf life for people is 70'
National
Aargau farmer under fire after pigs gassed to death by own excrement
National
Cows trample German woman to death in Graubünden Alps
National
Hot times: Swiss city to host first naked performance festival
Features
Expat American author's time in Zurich inspires racy bestseller
National
10 amazing places to be on Swiss National Day — or any other day
National
Swiss army pilfers water from French lake for cows in Switzerland
National
Swiss Army airlifts water to thirsty cows facing drought conditions
International
Canary Islands: diver killed in collision with Swiss windsurfer
National
VIDEO: Seagull steals camera for amazing bird's eye selfie
Switzerland celebrates first ascent of Matterhorn
Politics
Immigrant recruits may not be loyal: Swiss defence minister
Solar Impulse 2 round-the-world flight halted for repairs
Society
Teenager gets high on vegetarian meal at Zurich club
National
Greece seeks tax revenues from assets 'hidden' in Swiss banks
Culture
Paris police arrest Swiss artist for naked Eiffel Tower selfies
National
Scientists uncover largest Swiss dinosaur skeleton ever found
National
National weather office extends danger alerts as heatwave takes hold
National
Most severe heatwave in Switzerland since 2003 on the way
Travel
Bogglingly expensive Geneva club sandwiches remain 'priciest in world'
Politics
Anti-immigration nationalist party remains most popular: poll
National
Greek finance minister slams Swiss over lack of tax evasion info
Business & Money
Insects proposed for sale in Swiss supermarkets next year
National
'Oh God — I'm coming': noisy lovers' complaint goes public
National
Canton of Ticino threatens closing Italy border to asylum seekers
National
Just in case: Swiss National Bank prepares for Grexit 'crisis'
National
Russian crisis fuelled by sanctions threaten 40,000 Swiss jobs: study
National
Art Basel: Art for art's sake — or to make an investment?
National
New survey ranks Zurich Europe's priciest city for expatriates
National
Quarter of residents in Switzerland 'have multiple homes'
Features
Veggie lovers and 'flexitarians' challenge Swiss meat-eating habits
National
Forest officials struggle to save Switzerland's dying ash trees
Education
Historian finds ancient Egyptian papyrus texts in Basel uni library
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

4,344
jobs available