Marko Arnautovic responded emotionally to questions about Austrian team boss Franco Voda’s future on Wednesday. The coach is under pressure ahead of the last two World Cup qualifiers. If Friday’s matches against Israel and Monday’s matches against the Republic of Moldova in Klagenfurt are not won, new Austrian Football Association president Gerhard Milic may need to take action. It seems that Arnautovic does not see this.
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According to the Austrian striker’s star, the matches are there to “restore self-confidence and turn into a team again. It makes no sense to talk about the coach now, about his last chance or deadline.” There may also be an ultimatum to himself. “Maybe our new boss will come up to me and say, ‘Listen, Marco, if you don’t score for the next two games, that’s your deadline. “It could be that, too.”
“From a physical point of view, I can’t say I’m 100 percent”
Arnautovic knows how important that is to the team. In his 95th international match against Israel, he is ranked third in the UEFA rankings of all time. Only Toni Polster (44) and Hans Krankl (34) have scored more goals than his 29 for Austria. Polster really wanted to hit his goal record. “But I think he’s more interested in her than I am.”
Arnautovic missed his last two international matches in October due to muscle problems in his thigh. According to his own statements, this has been suffering from him since a fibrous tear that did not completely heal before the European Championships in June. “From a physical point of view, I can’t say I’m 100%. I feel pain with every match.” He didn’t assume the injury was that bad, but he wanted to be in EM. “I was in this pain every minute, every training session, every match. But things are getting better.” He does a lot of treatment to strengthen the muscles in the scar area.
At his new club, Bologna, there has been little to be seen from injury recently. After six goals in twelve competitive matches, including one in his last two league victories, the 32-year-old is already celebrating in Rossoblo. “I’m not the one to put myself above or below,” Arnautovic said. Everything has gone well since he moved from China to Italy. “In my career it has never been enough, it just keeps getting better.”
Arnautovic ‘really looking forward to the two games’
This also largely applies to the ÖFB team. Arnautovic has played only three of his eight World Cup qualifiers this year. “We can look back and hit him, but I don’t,” the Viennese asserted. You still have a chance of ‘slipping into the World Cup’ due to your Nations League ticket through the play-off. He sees the Klagenfurt double as a ‘test’ for the crucial knockout matches in March.
“It’s not like we’re going to the stadium and saying there’s nothing else we can do anyway,” Arnautovic confirmed. “We already have a goal. We have to win both games so we can stay in the second pot in order to qualify for the European Championship. Of course, these are factors.” The fact that the dreary backdrop awaiting at the nearly empty Wörthersee stadium changed a bit for the ÖFB star. “Of course it’s better with the fans. But even if people don’t believe it, I’m really looking forward to the two games.”
The central striker wants to help the last struggling ÖFB team with their presence on the pitch. “It doesn’t just matter to Arnautovic, the team is what matters. If they work together, I’m also sure we’ll win those two games. If we don’t get along, it will of course be difficult.” At 2:5 in Israel in September he “had no fun”. “Now they come to us. We go with respect, but 100 percent.”
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