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Grand Duchy shock Hitzfeld´s Swiss

SoccerNews in World Cup 10 Sep 2008


Swiss manager Ottmar Hitzfeld may be one of the most successful club coaches in history, having led Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich to the Champions League.

But on Wednesday his Swiss charges went down to a humiliating 2-1 home World Cup qualifier defeat to tiny Luxembourg in his first home competitive match in charge.

Although the likes of Andorra have shown in recent years that the minnow level has risen to prompt the well-worn adage that there are no easy matches any more, Luxembourg had until Wednesday done their best to prove the opposite.

Although they did appear in the 1963 European Championships, they scored zero points in the qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup, only San Marino proving as hapless as former Danish star Allan Simonsen and then Guy Hellers failed to stop the rot, the team conceding 48 goals along the way.

Nonetheless, in the Euro 2008 qualifiers the Grand Duchy – perhaps best known among its neighbours for budget petrol and a good place to pick up some Belgian chocolate bargains – did manage to see off Belarus for a first win in a decade.

That triumph ended a lamentable run of 55 straight defeats.

Wednesday's win at a stunned and embarrassed Letzigrund stadium was achieved courtesy of goals from veteran Jeff Strasser midway through the opening period and Alphonse Leweck four minutes from time after Blaise Nkufo had raised home hopes with a goal just before the interval.

Guy Hellers' men thus stand joint third in Group Two behind table-toppers Greece – to whom they lost at the weekend – and a point adrift of unbeaten Israel.

Hitzfeld replaced veteran Kobi Kuhn but after this loss might ponder the size of the task ahead of him.


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