Switzerland vs Ecuador, 6pm SS3
France vs Honduras, 9pm SS3
Argentina vs Bosnia, 11:59pm SS3
RIO DE JANEIRO – Switzerland have improved since the last World Cup in 2010 and are confident they can reach the last 16 as one of two qualifiers from Group E, coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said on Saturday.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s opening game against Ecuador, the experienced Hitzfeld said an injection of youth and creativity allied with traditional Swiss defensive solidity would help his team avoid the early exit they suffered four years ago.
Switzerland began their campaign in South Africa with a stunning 1-0 win over eventual winners Spain before defeat by Chile and a draw with Honduras ended their hopes.
“We began the revolution in 2011 when we brought in younger players,” Hitzfeld told a news conference at the national stadium in the Brazilian capital.
“We have a very strong younger generation and we also have young, yet experienced, players,” added the 65-year-old German, who took over in 2008 after coaching stints at clubs including Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
“I am convinced we will perform better this time and that we will reach the last 16. “Dreams are there to be realised. It is already a dream to be here in Brazil at the World Cup. “My dream is of course that we reach the last 16 and then we can dream bigger.”
Hitzfeld said there was a lot more to Ecuador than well-known players like Antonio Valencia and Felipe Caicedo and Switzerland would have to be careful not to be caught out by one of the South Americans’ swift counter-attacks.
France and Honduras, who meet in Porto Alegre on Sunday, make up Group E.