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Soccer-Swiss hope to banish 2010 nightmare in Honduras rematch

Reuters

(Corrects day of match to Wednesday in first para)

By David Ljunggren

MANAUS, Brazil, June 23 (Reuters) - Switzerland meet Honduras in their final World Cup Group E game on Wednesday seeking to banish bad memories of 2010, when they scraped a goalless draw against the same opponents and crashed out early.

Switzerland manager Ottmar Hitzfeld, trying to repair his team's spirit after their 5-2 thumping against France in the previous game, dismissed questions about the parallels with four years ago.

Just as in 2010, the two sides are meeting in their final group game. Four years ago a Swiss win by a two-goal margin would have taken them into the second round.

Hitzfeld said it was no use making comparisons "because we are going to win. It's as simple as that. The team today has more offensive potential".

The group is exceedingly tight and the Swiss could qualify with a draw if the French beat Ecuador. They last made it out of the group stage in 2006 but lost in the second round to Ukraine.

Hitzfeld played down talk of a draw, saying the Swiss had to win "since that's the only way to get through this round".

Switzerland went into the France game in good spirits after a last-gasp 2-1 win over Ecuador in their first match but then imploded after conceding two goals in a minute.

"The team is still very disappointed by what happened against France," Hitzfeld told Swiss reporters.

The German coach's main decision will be what to do about his central defence, which had a torrid time against France after Steve von Bergen came off in the ninth minute with a broken bone in his face. He has returned home.

Philippe Senderos came on for von Bergen but did not have a good game and Hitzfeld could turn instead to youngster Fabian Schaer.

Another challenge for the Swiss will be the tough conditions in Manaus, which is in the Amazon jungle.

The game kicks off at 4 pm local time (2000 GMT) when the sun will still be shining on the pitch and the temperature is likely to be at least 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit).

For Honduras, only a win will do if they are to have any chance of reaching the second round.

They need to beat the Swiss and hope France defeat Ecuador while also needing enough goals to be scored in both matches to turn around a minus four goal difference with the Ecuadoreans.

Honduras, known for their aggressive style, lost their first game 3-0 against France aftr being reduced to 10 men. They looked more polished in their second match but lost 2-1 to Ecuador.

"We can give more, it will be difficult, but there is hope and that's good," said midfielder Wilson Palacios, who was sent off against France.

Team mate Emilio Izaguirre preferred to put his faith in a higher being, saying, "now we have to have faith in God to get a great result against Switzerland". (Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Ken Ferris)

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