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Austrian boss plays down importance of a home win

By Miguel Delaney

Published 12/11/2016

If Austria are under pressure, without three usual starters and badly in need of three points against the Republic of Ireland, you wouldn't have felt it in their pre-game press conference.

Manager Marcel Koller was happily talking about how it was his 56th birthday yesterday, and playing down the idea that they badly need to win this game.

His side lie three points off top of the group, having drawn 2-2 at home to Wales and lost 3-2 away to Serbia, Another winless Vienna game would leave them with a lot to do away from home, but Koller wouldn't go that far.

"I don't think it's decisive - we'll still have six more games left. Of course if you lose more games, it's going to be even harder. But it's not about my position or anything else. It's about the six games and that we put the players in the right position and ready to play so we can win."

Koller probably has to try and maintain a measured mood, because this is an Austria squad that have struggled to adjust to a changed reality. They have gone from one of the most exciting young teams on the continent, expected to excel at Euro 2016, to one who flopped out at the first-round stage.

Austria's form is not the only difference from when they last met Ireland in September 2013, to win 1-0. Koller said the Irish side have "improved" since then - but noted the injuries to Shane Long, James McCarthy and Stephen Ward.

"They are better. But on the other hand, three important players are missing. An hour before the game starts, we will know exactly how they are going to play and then we can prepare. We have to have the right mentality to get the three points."

Belfast Telegraph

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