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Austria to look beyond Germany game to World Cup
Published : 10 Sep 2012 16:47:36Rss feed
Marcel Koller was relishing the thought of his first competitive game as Austria's coach Monday, but said it was important not to lose sight of the ultimate goal of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
"I am looking forward to this game immensely," the Swiss national told journalists on the eve of Austria's first 2014 World Cup qualifier against neighbours Germany.
"You feel in Austria that the Germany game is 'the' game," he added in reference to the long-standing rivalry between the two neighbours.
"But for me, it's just an important match at the start of our qualifying campaign: if we get points, we'll still go on as before. Because if we sit back and celebrate for the next three weeks, we won't get any points in Kazakhstan."
The central Asian nation will be Austria's next opponent on October 12 in Astana.
For Koller, Tuesday's encounter at Vienna's sold-out Ernst Happel Stadium will also be his first competitive match as Austria coach, 10 months after taking over the struggling national team.
The last time Austria qualified for a World Cup was in 1998 in France and in 2008, it only made it to the European championship as co-host with Switzerland.
Since Koller's arrival last November however, Austria -- ranked 49th in the world by FIFA -- has put together three wins and a draw, after an initial defeat.
"We will have the stadium behind us. Every Austrian is going to scream himself hoarse," Koller predicted.
The cool 51-year-old Swiss however warned not to get over-excited but to focus on the matter at hand.
"We have to stay concentrated and consistent until the final whistle. If we can manage that, I'm convinced we'll have a good game."
Captain Christian Fuchs, who plays for German Bundesliga side Schalke 04, was also confident victory was possible.
"We want to have a good game and put on a good display. A good result will then come naturally."
But he sought to keep expectations in check: "With a win, we won't be in Brazil yet (for the World Cup), we'll still have nine matches before us. And a defeat won't be the end of the world either: Germany is a clear favourite."
In 37 encounters since 1908, Germany has beaten Austria 23 times, with the last match - a Euro 2012 qualifier in September 2011 - ending in a 6-2 victory for the Germans.
Germany opened their campaign with a 3-0 win over Faroe Islands.