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Austria forward Roman Kienast up for starting role weeks after squeezing into Euro 2008 squad

Austria forward Roman Kienast up for starting role weeks after squeezing into Euro 2008 squad

Roman Kienast is contemplating a possible starting berth in Austria's crucial game with Poland on Thursday, just two weeks after most considered him only an outside chance to even make the squad.
Co-host Austria lost its opening Group B match 1-0 to Croatia on Sunday and needs a win against the Poles to keep alive any realistic hope of reaching the quarterfinals. The need for goals may prompt coach Josef Hickersberger to throw the 1.90-meter (6-foot-3) striker into his lineup.
First of all, Kienast played only the final 17 minutes against Croatia but was much more threatening than Roland Linz _ the player he replaced _ had been in the previous 73.
"I hope I'll will play from the beginning, but that's up to the coach," the 24-year-old Kienast said Tuesday.
Kienast moved better than Linz and came even to close to leveling the score with a header in injury time, even though he was severely hampered by Croatia defender Dario Knezevic pulling his jersey.
And Kienast's chances are better still because Linz tore ligaments in his left ankle Sunday and skipped training the next day. Linz was back on the field Tuesday, but was still not pain-free and therefore may be vulnerable as a starter.
Kienast looked fit and sharp in training and scored easily from different angles.
"I don't want to draw any comparisons between Roland and me," Kienast said. "We are very different types of players."
Kienast was with Rapid Vienna when Hickersberger coached the club until 2006 and scored only three goals in 55 matches.
Kienast moved to Hamarkameratene (Ham-Kam) in Norway, which was relegated to the country's second division, but he scored 14 goals to help the team re-enter Norway's top league.
He was first called up for Austria's national team for a friendly against Switzerland in October last year and was included in the preliminary squad for Euro 2008.
Kienast faced tough competition for the second central striker's spot from Salzburg's Marc Janko and Rapid Vienna's Stefan Maierhofer, who scored seven goals in the last 11 games to help his club win the Austrian championship.
Many expected Maierhofer to be in the final squad, but Kienast scored his first and only international goal when Austria drew with Nigeria 1-1 the day before Hickerberger had to announce his 23 players.
"Roman has become a completely different player in Norway," Hickersberger said. "He developed a lot and is not the same player anymore as we knew him from his Rapid years."
Kienast could earn his eighth cap against Poland, but would not be too pleased if he was chosen only because of Linz's injury.
"I am happy that Roland was back on the field today," said Kienast, whose uncle Reinhard Kienast played 13 matches for Austria in the 1980s. "There is no harsh competition between the two of us. I have a lot of self-belief and I try to convince the coach he should pick me because of my performances."


Updated : 2021-07-25 08:48 GMT+08:00