The Switzerland boss announced in October that the 2014 World Cup will be his last tournament as a coach, but he is confident his side can progress best Lionel Messi and Co.
By Kris Voakes at Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo
The 65-year-old announced after the Swiss qualified for the finals in October that he would retire as soon as his side are eliminated from the competition in Brazil.
But as they prepare to take on the in-form Lionel Messi and his colleagues, Hitzfeld is bullish about his chances of still being an international coach come the quarter-finals.
“I always prepare so that we can continue, and I am looking forward to this huge challenge,” the German told a pre-match press conference on Monday.
“With this Switzerland national team we have got together with the staff and thought about how we can go on. I don’t think this is going to be my last match.”
The prospect of facing Messi, who has netted four goals in three games so far in this World Cup, is not daunting Hitfeld. Indeed, he is bullish about his tactical plan for dealing with the Barcelona star.
“I think any defence will have problems facing Messi, but I trust not just my defence but the entire team,” the Swiss coach added. “The entire team will have to perform and I am optimistic.
“I believe the neutral Brazilians will support Switzerland because of the sporting rivalry that exists between Argentina and Brazil. But as for stopping Messi, we will show you tomorrow how will do that.”
Switzerland have been boosted themselves by the performances of Xherdan Shaqiri, who has picked up two Man of the Match awards so far. His most recent star showing came in bagging a hat-trick to see off Honduras.
And midfielder Gokhan Inler told the media he is pleased to have such a talented individual ahead of him in the team.
“He is an important player. He’s short, he’s fast and he’s mobile,” stated Inler. “He needs a good team backing him up, with technicians giving him the liberty by feeding him.
“He does well for us up front and he cannot be figured out that easily. We need to have him playing freely.”
The Round of 16 match kicks off at 18:00CET at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo on Tuesday, with the winners going on to face the victors in the later Belgium v USA clash.