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Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Bielsa not contemplating elimination

Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa does not even want to contemplate the prospect of bowing out of the World Cup finals at the first hurdle with six points.

The South Americans sit proudly at the top of Group H, three points clear of both European champions Spain and Switzerland heading into their final group match.

However, with the Spaniards awaiting them in Pretoria on Friday while the Swiss face pointless Honduras in Bloemfontein, there is a very real possibility that Chile could find themselves heading home if they do not pick up at least a draw.

But asked if he had considered that scenario, 54-year-old Argentinian Bielsa said: "It's never useful in football to interpret things that are yet to come.

"The great attraction of football is precisely that it hardly ever confirms what you think may happen. I don't want to think about what could happen and what we could achieve in the match on Friday.''

Of course, a point against Spain would send Chile through to the second round and could see Vicente del Bosque's side dumped out of the competition instead if Switzerland beat Honduras.

The Spaniards bounced back from their shock opening defeat by the Swiss by beating Honduras 2-0 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg last night.

However, Chile had earlier edged past the 10-man Swiss courtesy of substitute Mark Gonzalez's 75th-minute header, and while they had to wait for their winner despite Valon Behrami's first-half dismissal, they were good value for the points.

Friday's game will be a different prospect again, but Bielsa is confident his team will not be overawed by the task ahead of them despite the fact that midfielders Carlos Carmona and Matias Fernandez will miss the game through suspension.

He said: "First and foremost, we will, as we do in all matches, stand our ground. On Friday, we will try to show again our talents. That's the best way to try to be better than our opponents.

"Football is a game that brings unexpected results. We have not yet qualified and we have to fight for that qualification with the same enthusiasm with which we have participated so far.

"I believe that this group phase is a step which the team is taking well, and the next step, of course, is qualification for the second round.

"We haven't achieved that goal yet, so we have to carry on with what we are doing. We have nothing to celebrate yet, that's something to be done when we finish. We are not there yet, so celebrating now would not be prudent.''

Switzerland will hope victory over Honduras will be enough to secure their passage to the knockout phase of the competition, although they too will have to deal with a suspension with Behrami banned because of his red card.

However, coach Ottmar Hitzfeld knows just how tight the group could finish up, and that goal difference could be the deciding factor.

He said: "If all three teams finish with six points, they all should go through, but I know that's not going to be possible.

"Every goal counts and at the end of the day, we can be very pleased that we didn't lose 2-0 or 3-0 [to Chile]. But we are strong enough to beat Honduras and that's precisely what we have got to get into our players' heads over the next few days.

"I am always an optimist and I am always confident. We have got to come to terms with this defeat first of all. We will have to assess the match and analyse it and then bounce back as quickly as we can.

"We still have an excellent opportunity to qualify for the round of 16 and I am sure if we beat Honduras, we will do just that.''




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