Why keep Austria’s keepers dangling?

June 5, 2008

Austrian keepers in training

On the subject of goalkeepers (see Kev’s blog on Jens Lehmann here), you have to pity the Austrians Alexander Manninger and Juergen Macho.

Gruff coach Josef Hickersberger said he would name his number one keeper on Wednesday, having already advised the unlucky one to display the stoic “humanity” shown by Germany’s Oliver Kahn after Juergen Klinsmann left him on the bench in 2006.

But now after “discipline issues” (one team member showed up late for a meeting) Hickersberger says he will keep them dangling until Saturday evening, just one day before Austria’s opening match against Croatia.

Where is the logic, gobsmacked journalists asked after his announcement.  It doesn’t sound fair, suggested one Austrian reporter at the team’s base in Stegersbach. “Tough,” answered Hickersberger.

One theory runs he just wants to provoke his team. Either way ‘Hicke’ likely spoiled Manninger’s 31st birthday celebrations on Wednesday. Crumbs and candles everywhere, I shouldn’t wonder.

Alex Hudson, with the Austrian team in Stegersbach

PHOTO: Alexander Manninger goes for a save in training as Juergen Macho looks on in Stegersbach June 3, 2008. REUTERS/Robert Zolles

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