Austria hope for a good start to EHF EURO 2014 qualification
An emotional homecoming awaits Austria's men's national team when they play Bosnia and Herzegovina in an EHF EURO 2014 qualification match in the city of Linz on 31 October.
Two years ago at the EHF EURO 2010 on home soil it was in Linz where the national team drew 37-all against Iceland and beat Serbia 37:31 in the Preliminary Round to qualify for the Main Round.
The 16 men selected by head coach Patrekur Jóhannesson now go into the qualifier hoping that the support from the crowd once more will bring the desired success.
"We have a very difficult group with Serbia, Russia and Bosnia and Herzegovina as opponents. I have started analysing all of them and they are all good teams," says Jóhannesson.
"But I want to win every match, and that doesn't change just because the opponent is strong. First of all, I am looking at my team, thinking about how we can improve ourselves. We are not the favourite in this group but we will give it all we have and then we'll just have to wait and see how far we'll get."
'A fight until the penultimate minute'
Right back Maximilian Hermann (pictured), who plays club handball for HIT medalp Tirol, was born in Linz and promises that Austria will not go down without a fight.
"There is no easy opponent in our group. They (Bosnia and Herzegovina) have strong individual players and play a very physical game, but that's what you should play on an international level," says Hermann.
"We know that Bosnia and Herzegovina are a good team, but we have to focus on our own strengths and if we do, I know that we will win this match in my home town.
"It'll be a fight until the penultimate minute. Both teams will give it all they have, but with the support of our fans we will be victorious. We witnessed two years ago, what can be achieved through the spectators' support in Linz."
The head-to-head count between Austria and Bosnia and Herzegovina is even. The teams have met three times, drew once and have won one match each. In the last encounter in 1999 Austria won 32:24.
Record international Patrick Fölser retires
Just before the match Austria will bid farewell to his most experienced national team player. It was announced on Wednesday (17 October) that line player and current record international Patrick Fölser ends his career in the national team.
"You just have to stop at some point. That's why I decided to end my career in the national team. If your body at almost 36 tells you to stop, you have to listen," Fölser said.
"A younger generation has already stepped up and now it's up to them to bring the national team forward."
Patrick Fölser played for 16 years for Austria. In 213 international appearances he scored 561 goals. With 246 caps only former goalkeeper Ewald Humenberger took to the court more often than Fölser.
In the second qualification match for the EHF EURO 2014 Austria will play Russia in the Russian city of Perm on 4 November. Russia lead 2:1 in the head-to-head count between the two teams.
For more EHF EURO 2014 news go to www.ehf-euro.com
Also join us on www.facebook.com/EHFEUROMen
Austria's team for the qualification matches against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Russia: Thomas Bauer (TV Neuhausen), Christoph Edelmüller (HC Fivers WAT Margareten), Alexander Hermann (SG INSIGNIS Handball WESTWIEN), Maximilian Hermann (HIT medalp Tirol), Andreas Lassner (ULZ Sparkasse Schwaz), Nikola Marinovic (HSG Wetzlar), Lucas Mayer (Bregenz Handball), Fabian Posch (ULZ Sparkasse Schwaz), Raul Santos (Union Juri Leoben), Roland Schlinger (HBW Balingen Weilstetten), Dominik Schmid (Alpla HC Hard), Viktor Szilagyi (Bergischer HC), Markus Wagesreiter (SG INSIGNIS Handball WESTWIEN), Robert Weber (SC Magdeburg), Konrad Wilczynski (SG INSIGNIS Handball WESTWIEN), Vytautas Ziura (HC Fivers WAT Margareten)
Fotos: Silvio Ferrari
TEXT: ÖHB / ts