Port Elizabeth/Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa - Following the upset victory over Spain in their opening game, Blaise Nkufo and his Swiss countrymen took on first-match winners Chile in a decisive Group H match. An early red card might have sealed Switzerland's fate and with 15 minutes remaining in the match, Chile was finally able to break through the stout Swiss defense, a defense that had not allowed a FIFA World Cup goal in a record 550 minutes, for their second victory.
Nkufo played the lone striker role up top most of the game, no small task for anyone in any circumstance but a Herculean effort while a man down. He checked in with us following the match with hopes to make it through.
Q: What is the mood in the locker room after the loss?
Blaise: We were disappointed and frustrated. Disappointed to have lost the game, because we did not capitalize on the opportunity to qualify for the next round. Frustrated about the bad decisions of the referees, as well against ourselves. We did not perform individually and collectively.
Q: There were a lot of cards shown today. Was the game that rough or was the official too quick with the card?
Blaise: Generally the refereeing was not good. We can see the referees making bad decisions but it is a part of the game. We have to deal with the refereeing. Yesterday, the official was too quick with the card. Once again, we have to deal with good and bad decisions of the referees.
Q: What was the strategy going in to the game and how did that change once you lost Behrami to the red card?
Blaise: Chile is a good team, they play quick and vertical to the goal. They are different from Spain, which keeps ball possession and attacks. The strategy did not change. We wanted to stay compact in middle and force them to play wide to the side, as we did versus Spain. But after the sending off Behrami it became more complicated with ten men. We did well until they scored the goal in the 75th minute.
Q: What do you and the team do to bounce back from this loss?
Blaise: Personally after a win or a loss, I move quickly to the next challenge, the next game. Of course you appreciate a win more, but the team has to move quick and back to the basics on the field. That means focusing on the next match and keep doing the same things which allowed us to participate in this World Cup.
Q: Despite the loss, it seems as though Switzerland has risen greatly to the level of play at the World Cup. Any comment on the level of play for the team so far?
Blaise: We play with our qualities, but we know if we want to reach the next round we have to improve our performance individually and collectively. For example, keeping ball possession, crossing, final ball and taking risks. We have to act and don't react to the opponent. We showed these skills during the qualifications for the World Cup and we have to do it with Honduras. We need to act and win on Friday.