Swiss bank on anger and luck to halt slide

FEUSISBERG, Switzerland, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Switzerland, going downhill fast since beating Spain at the World Cup, are banking on a combination of anger and luck to end the slide against Wales on Tuesday.

Ottmar Hitzfeld, one of Europe's most successful coaches at club level, has struggled to inspire an attack which has managed only five goals in 12 games and record scorer Alexander Frei has not hit the target at international level for more than a year.

"I don't think it's a problem with the players, because we have players with quality, I don't think the problem is the coach, and I don't think the problem is with the system," Frei told reporters on Monday.

"Maybe the problem is in our heads. Maybe as a team we need to become a bit angry, in the positive sense, this is the right moment to show that we have strength as a team, that we have more than just have talent or experience."

The Swiss reached a new low on Friday, losing a Euro 2012 qualifier 1-0 to tiny Montenegro, a team which has only existed for three years and represents a country with a population of less than 700,000.


Switzerland have taken part in the last four major tournaments, Euro 2004 and 2008 and the last two World Cups, and on paper should have enough firepower to finish at least second in Group G.

However, Friday's defeat left them pointless with two games while Montenegro have nine from three.

With players in the Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1, there is no shortage of talent while Hitzfeld's pedigree with seven Bundesliga and two Champions League titles to his credit is not in doubt.

The Swiss produced arguably the biggest upset at the World Cup by beating eventual winners Spain 1-0 but they failed to hit the target against Chile or Honduras and went out in the first round.

They have since drawn 0-0 at home to Australia in a friendly and lost 3-1 to England in a Euro 2012 qualifier, with only a 1-0 friendly win over Austria breaking the sequence.

Hitzfeld, whose job could be on the line if Switzerland fail to beat Wales on Tuesday, took a different line.

"You need luck to win a match," he said, adding that the long wait between games was frustrating.

"Against Montenegro, we had more five or six chances, Pirmin Schwegler was two centimetres from scoring a goal."

"You're always under pressure, that is part of our profession. In a club you have more chances to turn things around, with a national team you have to wait weeks so the match takes on greater significance.