EURO 2017: Pre-tournament interview with Switzerland Head Coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg
The Swiss women’s national football team has gotten the European Championship year off to a good start with its victory in the Cyprus Cup. The team’s coach, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, talked to Credit Suiss Group AG about her new insights on the road to the European Championship.
Your victory at the Cyprus Cup in early March is the first time Switzerland’s female football team has won an international tournament. Is that a milestone?
The players certainly thought it was cool. I, however, am mainly pleased with their performance and not the results. The score of one to zero was our reward for two strong matches against the powerful teams from South Korea and North Korea. We wanted to win more than our opponent, and that is what impressed me.
What things did you especially like?
The process of continuous improvement. In January, we got the year off to a rough start with a poor friendly match against Spain. Naturally, it caused us to have some doubts. In our opening match against Belgium in Cyprus, we tied at two to two, and after that, our performance took off like a rocket. We committed ourselves to finding a good balance between pressing on the attack and maintaining stability in defense because that will be extremely important in the European Championship. It was an important learning process and has already worked pretty well.
Did the tournament give you any new insights?
Absolutely. Individual players have grown. And our rookies Seraina Friedli, Géraldine Reuteler, Jana Brunner, and Naomi Mégroz played surprisingly well during their debut matches. That gives us a wider and stronger range of talent. Unlike in the past, we are getting our second wind. We trounced Italy six to nothing, and we did it without Bachmann and Dickenmann. In spite of the many changes, how we play has not suffered. And that is exactly what we need. Tournaments are often decided by fresh blood who can bring new fire to the team.
Will your young players be coming along to the European Championship?
In Cyprus, Naomi Mégroz tore her cruciate ligament for the second time in a year and will spend a long time on the injured list. Seraina Friedli has many qualities and good chances of becoming one of the three nominated goalkeepers. Jana Brunner played two impressive matches as central defender against North and South Korea. Then, when Géraldine Reuteler scored two goals against Italy, she confirmed what we have known for a long time now: This up-and-coming striker possesses tremendous talent. It is entirely possible that those two will be part of the squad that heads to the European Championship.
You still have three months until the European Championship in the Netherlands. What lessons have you learned from your preparations for the World Cup?
Just like the World Cup, the European Championship is the end of an exhausting season. That’s why we will be using more sophisticated and individualized techniques to control the training load. We have also cut back some on practice hours and are sending the players home over the weekends so they can take a step back and keep their minds fresh. Lastly, we will be shortening the nomination phase and announcing the European Championship squad earlier. Ahead of the World Cup, we stoked the competition as long as possible, which was not entirely a good thing.
And the lessons you learned for yourself?
I will try to be even more positive.
By using more carrots and fewer sticks?
If that is what they prefer. However, that won’t be a general approach but depends on the individual.
Are players in Switzerland more sensitive than those in Germany?
I don’t want to generalize. But it is important for me to have good discussions with my coaching team and listen to my assistant, Simon Steiner, when he says, “Cool down, Martina. Have a little more faith.”