Rebuilt Austrian side returns to training
The Austrian national team held only one of two scheduled training sessions as the new 19-man squad assembled in Vienna. The squad welcomed the arrival of midfielder Markus Schopp from Brescia and Casino Bregentz defender Robert Golmatz and scrutinized their Israeli opponents on video.
The Austrian national team held only one of two scheduled training sessions as the new 19-man squad assembled in Vienna.
The squad welcomed the arrival of midfielder Markus Schopp from Brescia and Casino Bregentz defender Robert Golmatz and scrutinized their Israeli opponents on video.
At a press conference yesterday, coach Otto Baric said that there was only a slim chance that star attacking midfielder Ivica Vastic would be moved to fill the central defender's role in the absence of most of the originally picked defensive players who pulled out on Tuesday.
The most likely candidate for the crucial role is Gilbert Prilasnig, and if defensive midfielder Manfred Schmidt is preferred to Marcus Hiden, the Austrians could play in an unconventional 3-6-1 formation.
Baric told the press yesterday that the squad had been rebuilt following the pullout of nine players, and the team now was concentrating only on the game. "We have not got anything else," Baric said. "These are the best that we have. I have to put my confidence in them and do everything to make sure they think I have confidence in them."
Baric rejected concerns that some of the new players, including 18-year-old Emmanuel Pogatetz of Bayer Leverkusen, were not experienced enough to take part in the match to decide who will play Turkey for a place in the finals.
"They are good players from top clubs even if they are not in the first teams," Baric said. "They all know they have a big chance."
Austrian captain Andreas Herzog said the new players in the squad would be a positive influence for Sunday's match and said all players would make an effort to pull together in the remaining days of training.
"The team that will be there on Sunday will show what they are made of from the first until the last minute," he told reporters. "I think it is positive that they are coming with us."
"We will have to get to know each other as quickly as possible. The older players are going to have to welcome the younger players. They do not need to be scared of us."
But he added that he expected the home fans in Israel to be hostile. "We must not let ourselves be influenced by the spectators out there," Herzog said. "Of course it is a bit of a lions' den and we must make sure we remain calm."
Austrian football association spokesman Wolfgang Gramann said he was trusting the Israeli authorities to provide "perfect conditions" for the match.
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