The ÖFB youngsters born in 2003 are going into their previous highlight with great ambitions. At the U19 European Championship in Slovakia from Saturday, the ÖFB team has at least fifth place and thus the goal of the ticket for the U20 World Cup 2023 in Indonesia. Austria starts on Sunday (8 p.m. / ORF-Sport+) in Banska Bystrica against title favorite England. The other Group B opponents are Israel and Serbia.
Even qualifying for the eight-team finals was a great success. The 2003 vintage are still unbeaten in competitions (as U17 and U19) and have even knocked out Spain, the record European champion for U19. This class will also be shown in Slovakia. “The clear goal is to qualify for the U20 World Cup,” explained team boss Martin Scherb. This requires either first and second place in the group or victory in the play-off for the two third-placed teams.
But Scherb “it’s also about the how. We want to be courageous and show that Austria can hold its own against top nations as a youngster. We don’t have the attitude ‘We’re small’, we’re Austria and we know what we’re capable of.” The team boss has highly talented players like Yusuf Demir (Rapid), Adis Jasic (WAC) and Samuel Mischitz (Altach) available for this, who have already gained a foothold in the Bundesliga. In addition, some from the Salzburg Red Bull Academy (Justin Omoregie, Lukas Wallner) and even legionnaires like Captain Ervin Omic from Juventus Turin. Scherb has scouted around 100 players over the past four and a half years, and the result is a team with class and team spirit. “The players have made a great development in recent years, not only personally but also as a team. They have high individual quality, plus there is team spirit. They come together – and it’s like at a class reunion. They’re not afraid of anything , they think big, they know what they can do, but also what they can’t do yet. I’ve looked after some great teams, but this one is very special,” said Scherb. The Lower Austrian wants to do the same with his protégés as the A-Team under Ralf Rangnick did recently. Nothing new for the U19s. “Just like we’ve been working with this vintage for several years: don’t be afraid of big names, attack high, play boldly forward,” he describes the style.
In qualifying against Spain and Denmark, the young Austrians showed this quality, against England a similar effort is needed to be successful. “England are the top favorites for the title. They are physically strong, technically good, have all the attributes you want as a coach. We definitely need an A-game to be able to challenge them. But we go in against England and we want to to win.”
Chukwuemeka from Eisenstadt
Star of the English is half an Austrian. Carney Chukwuemeka has played for Aston Villa 12 times in the Premier League and is valued at €6m. The midfielder was born in Eisenstadt and, according to Scherb, “obviously has an Austrian passport”. Should he not prevail with the Three Lions, he might also be a choice for the ÖFB team. “In the medium term, the ÖFB will see if it could be an option,” said Scherb.
The decision about advancement to the semi-finals and/or World Cup ticket will probably be made in the games against Israel and Serbia. “Israel defends very deeply. They are strong in the transition game, they are a very good counter-attacking team,” says Scherb. The Serbs, on the other hand, have very good individual players but already have three qualifiers for the finals in their legs in June. “I’m assuming that we might be the fresher team,” hopes Scherb.