The ÖFB Cup is when worlds collide. That’s what happened again this year when ambitious Bundesliga clubs competed against Bundesliga teams.
All matches of the OFB Cup from the first round >>>
Cup fever can be especially felt this year at SCU Ardagger, who can rival Bundesliga Croesus FC Red Bull Salzburg.
The club from the community of 3,000 has had an almost unbelievable year.
“It wasn’t planned at all.”
Contrary to their own expectations, the club started a run in the Lower Austrian First League last season which did not stop and culminated in a surprise promotion to the Regionalliga Ost.
For the club from Mostviertel this is the biggest success in the club’s history, after 23 years in the national league they rose to the third highest league in Austria for the first time.
SCU Sports Director Wolfgang Riesenhuber describes Ardagger at LAOLA1Talking as a small association “where the focus is on humanity and camaraderie.”
The height came as a surprise. “It wasn’t planned at all. The goal was to finish in the top four. We had no pressure at all and that was our big advantage,” explains Riesenhuber.
As a bonus, the “bulls” were also drawn into the cup. The first thought was: “Whoa, how can we do it again now,” said the organization’s president, Peter Zeitlhofer, in an interview LAOLA1.
The former assistant coach of Robert Winstable at Amstetten is in charge of organizing the cup event with the OC team around boss Markus Hagler.
This is of course “a big dream, because you have the best team in Austria as guests.”
Card requests? “Yeah, it’s endless.”
At the time of the draw, Ardagger was busy working on infrastructure. The stand at the local sports stadium was about to be rebuilt.
“In any case, it was planned to renew our runway. Because of the cup draw, everything had to go a little faster now,” explains Zeitlhofer.
The cup game is a great challenge for the little club. Sporty anyway, but quite organizational.
“We’ve had endless requests for tickets,” says Zeitlhofer. The rush to the match against the Champions League participants is colossal.
That is why the club does its best to create a “real football festival” for visitors. And in order to provide this opportunity to as many people as possible, special measures are being taken.
“At Salzburg it seems like 30 people sit on the bench, but that has become too small for every club in Austria.”
Organization chief Zeitlhofer with a wink about the problem of space at the edge of the field
Work as far as the eye can see
Behind one of the gates you have an empty space. “An additional, temporary runway will be constructed there. Many platforms will be stacked,” Zeitlhofer reveals.
On the other side there is a slope, where gastronomic improvements need to be made.
A separate platform is also being created for Salzburg match analysts, on which they can do their work.
A total of 2,500 people must be able to attend the game. The “oxen” also help out when necessary – for which Zittelhofer is very grateful.
“It’s a great collaboration with Salzburg, the club is well organized,” he said in praise.
There is only one point at which you should be late, Zietelhofer says with a laugh: “In Salzburg it seems that 30 people sit on the bench, but for every club in Austria that is too small.”
The most important thing is “that the Salzburgers feel comfortable with us. If they leave satisfied, we are happy.”
By continuity of goal (unplanned)
Ardagger’s credit for making this happen is down to the constant work at the club, Riesenhuber explains.
“Michael Unterberger has been our coach for seven years. I and a few others have been with us for almost 25 years,” he says.
The team hasn’t changed much over the years. Only four new players were brought in to the regional league, all from the lower classes and from the region. “All of our players come from the region,” Zeitlhofer adds.
“We have to manage very little, for us the regional league is a completely different world. And Salzburg is a completely different number anyway,” said Riesenhuber.
In spite of everything, the “bulls”, of course, will not be defeated without a fight. “We want to keep zero as long as possible, and put in one or two strokes,” explains the sporting director of David’s goal against Goliath.
Last season, Ardagger proved that’s not far off. In the state league, the team has conceded only 17 goals in 30 matches, and only five on its home green!
Riesenhuber uses the phrase: “Forwards win games, defenders win trophies and that’s how it was with us.”
“I have already advised the Salzburger team not to focus too much on the cup because of the triple burden.”
Zeitlhofer tries to impress the “cops” with his sense of humor
Zeitlhofer with special tips for Gesli’s “bulls”.
The SCU game has “a lot of continuous action and a lot of counter-pressing. Salzburgers will be surprised at how fast our players can be,” Risenhuber confirms.
However, the 60-year-old laughs, “Maybe we should put a semi-trailer in front of the gate.”
The head of the organization Zeitlhofer, who is in constant contact with the managers of the “bulls”, also has information ready for Croesus’ tournament. “I actually advised them not to focus too much on the cup because of the triple load,” he says with a laugh.
However, it is feared that the Gessle team will not respond to this. Anything but a Salzburg victory would be a Dudelange or Vaduz-style sensation.
Cup wishes, goals for the Eastern League
However, for SCU Ardagger, the game itself is a huge asset and there are other reasons to celebrate.
Because a lot from a financial point of view is a blessing. “In terms of sustainability, it’s definitely good for us and will help us in the future,” says Zeitlhofer happily.
His wish in the cup match? “Beautiful weather! And everything is running smoothly. If people go home happy, then we did everything right.”
After the game against the “Bulls”, everyday life is called the regional league, where staying in the league is the goal next season.
But Wolfgang Riesenhuber has no illusions, he also realizes that Ardagger may be the great stranger.
“Of course, the regional league can be a big shovel for us,” says the athletic director. “But they have to score us a goal there as well.”
Because it can be assumed that you will not move the semi-trailer in front of your own box by then.
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