Marcel Koller questions Roy Keane’s ‘go to war’ motivation

Austria coach backs his understrength side to put it up to Ireland in Sunday’s World Cup qualifier

Austria manager Marcel Koller has questioned Roy Keane's challenge to the Ireland players to "go to war" in Sunday's World Cup qualifier at the Aviva stadium.

Koller admitted he was unconcerned by Keane’s rhetoric and is confident his injury and suspension-hit squad can match an Ireland side that won the return fixture 1-0 in Vienna last November.

Koller said: "I think what Roy Keane said was meant as motivation for the home team and of course, they will try to play hard and physically at home.

“I don’t think you should use the word war about football, but of course I understand that Roy Keane wants to motivate his team and it’s important for Austria to know how to fight that.”


Austria arrived in Dublin without the suspended Marko Arnautovic and strikers Marc Janko and Marcel Sabitzer, while full back Andreas Ulmer was absent because he is getting married this week.

After a poor Euro 2016 finals tournament and a less than impressive start to the new World Cup qualifying campaign, they find themselves under considerable pressure, with defeat at the Aviva likely to signal the end of their hopes of making it to Russia.

However, Austria defender Sebastian Prodl was swift to dismiss talk of unrest within the camp.

He said: “There’s always something to discuss if you are not winning games, if you are not competing as you like. But this is not a problem at all.

“We just have to make sure we get back on track and things will get better again and discussions will stop. There’s no discussion in the team, there’s no discussion about the team, so every surrounding noise that’s made at the moment doesn’t affect us at all.

“We feel pressure, of course, but we only feel pressure because we have all got this strong belief and this strong target to go to Russia next year. That’s the only pressure we feel at the moment.”

Swiss Koller was hailed as a national hero after guiding Austria to last summer’s Euro finals in France having dropped just two points along the way, and he was philosophical when asked about speculation that his job is on the line.

He said: “If you look back, there have already been many situations in my career where I have felt some pressure. And, of course, Austria are some points behind Ireland and Serbia, so we want to get back to business and get as many points as possible.

“But I have also been in the business long enough to think positive. The team is well prepared for tomorrow, but I am also aware that the team has to deliver and prove it’s qualities tomorrow.”