Looking at the FIFA world rankings, Austria has a slight edge in the battle for numbers 20 and 23. “But I don’t think three places will make much of a difference in the world rankings. I think it’s a 50/50 game. “We can realistically assess that a really strong opponent awaits,” said ÖFB team boss Irene Furman. The Scots can also rely on home advantage. “It’s nice to be able to play at Hampden Park, but the away game is not in our hands,” Viennese said.
On Monday, team players from around the world traveled to Glasgow, where they only had time to work on the pitch on Tuesday and Wednesday. In the last training, all ÖFB kickers took part in the program when it rained, no personal question marks.
The tension before the match against Scotland
Austria’s women’s football team will face Scotland on Wednesday in a World Cup qualifying play-off. Strong opponents test the endurance of the game for Irene Furman’s team.
“It’s going to be a very tough, run-intensive game,” Furman suspected. The very strong Scots rely on a very vertical game, rarely long balls behind the defensive line. “It’s important to secure the first balls better so that we don’t get into a run fight,” urged the 42-year-old.
The best-known of the Scottish squad is midfielder Caroline Weir, who has been with Real Madrid since the summer. Also, Erin Cuthbert from Chelsea and Manchester United striker Martha Thomas ensure quality. “We know what’s coming,” Furman emphasized. The opponent has one World Cup participation (2019) in front of the ÖFB team, but surprisingly after participating in the premiere at the latest European Championship in England in the summer of 2017.
“I like this challenge”
As in the World Cup qualifiers, Austria faced Northern Ireland along with European champions England. Now it was time to play again against a British opponent. In terms of quality, Scots is somewhere in between. The ÖFB squad has always lost against them in three attempts. 1:2 home, 0:5 away in qualifying for the 2003 World Cup and a 1:3 test defeat in the Cyprus Cup in March 2017. Since then, Captain Karina Wenninger and her team have developed a lot. “We’ve never been able to win. I like this challenge, it’s good for me,” Furman said.
Nerves play a crucial role in this. “We have a big historic opportunity and we don’t want to let it go,” emphasized the ÖFB team boss. A win against Scotland would set up a “really interesting showdown” against Ireland. “The most important thing is that the players don’t tense up and don’t overdo it,” Furman said. On the field, it is important to strike a good balance between safety and the potential risk of rain and strong winds.
The lead role of Sadrasil
Sara Sadrasil plays a central role, having to set the tone in the midfield. “We are good in pressure games and we proved that at the Euros,” said the Bayern legionnaire, optimistic for the future. She didn’t want to know anything about the preferred role. “From the outside looking in, all the runners-up are a category apart in terms of level,” the 29-year-old said. She didn’t want to get too involved with a “physically strong” opponent. “It is important to focus on ourselves, and we must rely on our strengths.”
This includes pressing attack and dueling behavior. “It’s important that we have the necessary composure and review when in possession to resolve situations,” Sarah Pundigum said before a duel with a “very uncomfortable” opponent. He is coached by Pedro Martinez Llosa. The 46-year-old Spaniard has been in office since August 2021 and is respected for the task as the ÖFB selection reached the quarter-finals at the European Championship. “Not only in the European Championships, but in the World Cup qualifiers they didn’t do well,” said the Scotland coach.
Besides Wenninger, he singled out goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger and striker Nicole Billa. But we are ready to challenge them, Llosa promised. The event at Hampden Park inspired his team even more. The organizers are hoping for a new national women’s record with around 10,000 fans. “The fans can push the team forward and the players need that extra boost. That’s a very important factor,” Llosa said. On the other hand, an unblemished record against Austria played no role. “The way women’s football has developed, I don’t think these matches will have any impact on Thursday’s game.”
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