Friday 18 January 2019

Problems are striking for Austria manager

Bayern Munich star David Alaba
Bayern Munich star David Alaba

Austria, like their Irish opponents for next week's World Cup tie in Vienna, are struggling for strikers and goalscorers as the qualification campaign enters a crucial phase.

Martin O'Neill raised a few eyebrows with the selection for his 35-man squad which contained five goalkeepers but only four centre forwards, two of whom (Adam Rooney and David McGoldrick) have yet to play in a competitive game with the other two having a combined age of 66 (Kevin Doyle and Jon Walters).

Austria coach Marcel Koller can commiserate with the lack of options available up front: apart from veteran Marc Janko (another 33-year-old, like Walters and Doyle), two of the three forwards named yesterday by Koller in his squad have yet to score, putting a lot of pressure on Koller (28 goals from his 59 appearances for the national team) to deliver.

Koller has a number of issues to deal with as Ireland prepare for their date in Vienna, with morale low following their poor showing at Euro 2016 and a less than spectacular start to the World Cup campaign.

Austria's key man, Bayern Munich star David Alaba (inset), has been under fire in Germany for his displays in the Bayern side, and fans back home in Austria were less than impressed when stories emerged of Alaba partying the night away in Belgrade after their 3-2 loss to Serbia last month.

Koller predicts a tough evening at home to Ireland.

"We know it will be a tough task for us," he said. "Ireland play a very physical kind of game, but they are also dangerous going forward. We will need to show quality and composure in the game."

He has named three English-based players in his squad: Stoke veteran Marco Arnautovic, Watford defender Sebastian Prodl, and Spurs rookie Kevin Wimmer, who has just six senior caps to date.

Austria squad v Ireland

Keepers: Linider (Eintracht Frankfurt), Luske (Altach), Ozcan (Bayer L).

Defenders: Dragovic (Bayer), Hinteregger (Augsburg), Klein (Stuttgart), Lazaro, Stangl (Salzburg), Prodl (Watford), Suttner (Ingolstadt), Wimmer (Spurs).

Midfielders: Alaba (Bayern Munich), Arnautovic (Stoke), Baumgartlinger (Bayer), Harnik (Hannover), Ilskaner, Sabitzer (Leipzig), Junuzovic (Werder Bremen), Schaub (Rapid Vienna), Schöpf (Schalke).

Forwards: Gregoritsch (Hamburg), Hinterseer (Ingolstadt), Janko (Basel).

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