Now that catching Ireland looks well beyond them, Austria are turning their attention to Serbia and Wales which could benefit Martin O’Neill’s side as the World Cup campaign hurtles towards the business end.
The concession of a late equaliser and two points in Dublin yesterday means Austria need a four-point swing and a vastly-improved goal difference to usurp Ireland in the Group D standings.
“There are 12 points to play for and we’ll battle for every one of them,” vowed Marcel Koller, the visiting manager heading for the sack unless a late turnaround somehow navigates them a play-off spot and a route to Russia next year.
Austria should have their absent mainstays such as Marko Arnautovic and Marc Janko back for their next assignment, the trip to Cardiff in September, and they’ll need a more consistent performance to retain any chance of figuring in the shake-up come the Autumn.
“Ireland were the home team and seemed happy to keep their distance,” added Koller, suggesting O’Neill set up with a plan of containment.
“We knew Ireland would apply pressure in the second half and, after they equalised, we could conceded another. It was an intense and physical game and so I am a happy with how our younger plans that came into the team performed.
“Although there are fewer games remaining now, we will do everything to make up the difference on teams above us. I believe we can still qualify.”
Their star man David Alaba left Lansdowne Road with a point again but not carrying the level of happiness his equaliser created four years ago.
That gave Austria the upperhand in that campaign, whereas only a collapse of an unprecedented level from the Irish would generate a window for them to be caught by last night’s opponents.
“It was not a bad result, even though we had chances at 1-0 to score more,” said the Bayern Munich playmaker.
“Ireland played a in a very aggressive style, pumping long balls all the time, and that did not help our normal game. There was a lot of changes in our team but we have quality. Players came in and performed well.
“The group is not over, we will keep going until the last game. There is still lots to play for.”
Zlatko Junuzovic was trying to sound equally upbeat, the experienced attacker balancing the upset of losing a lead with the point gained off one of their group rivals.
“It wasn’t the best game but we led for a long time and that makes leaving with a draw a bitter feeling,” said the Werder Bremen veteran.
“We will travel to Wales in our next match with the belief we can still keep alive our qualification chances. This is a group in which teams are taking points off each other and that will continue into the latter stages.”
Within a group which no team has so far grabbed the initiative, it would seem premature to totally rule the Austrians out of the equation.
They were better than Ireland for large spells yesterday and have the capability of troubling Wales and Serbia, the latter whom they welcome to Vienna in the penultimate fixture in October.
That would suit Ireland so long as the Boys in Green take care of their own business.
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