Few would deny that luck plays a vital role in football. For all the skill in the world, sometimes a little good fortune is needed for things to go your way, as Austria’s Andreas Weimann can readily attest.
In his side’s FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 opener – a disappointing scoreless draw against Panama – the striker let four clear-cut second-half chances go begging. While credit should go to an excellent performance by goalkeeper Luis Mejia, the Aston Villa player's failure to get on the score-sheet was largely due to bad luck on the day.
Weimann told FIFA.com: “We could have beaten Panama comfortably if we’d created more chances, but we didn’t and we’re disappointed with our failure to score.”
The No9 was, however, full of praise for Mejia: “He had an extraordinary game, but I didn’t get the breaks against him and I wasted a number of chances that would have sealed the win for us.”
Weimann highlighted one opportunity in particular. With ten minutes left on the clock, he rose to meet a cross from Emir Dilaver, only to see his header turned over the crossbar by Mejia’s outstretched fingers. Thhe 19-year-old Austrian was so astonished by the reflex save that he stood rooted to the spot.
Even now, recalling the save, he sounds incredulous. Weimann said: “When I headed the ball I knew it was on target and I was pretty sure it was going in, but his reactions were superlative and he tipped it over for a corner."
For his part, Mejia had nothing but admiration for his rival, describing Weimann as a constant threat and singling out his 80th-minute attempt as the moment the match could have been won or lost: “The Austrians created a number of chances, the best being Weimann’s header, which would have led to a very different result if I hadn’t turned it over. My save gave a boost to my team-mates and we hung on to take the point.”
For his part, Austria coach Andreas Heraf is refusing to dwell on the missed opportunities, seeing them as part and parcel of the game. Moreover, he insisted he was anything but disappointed in Weimann, who for the last half-hour played as a lone striker after partner Robert Zulj was substituted.
“He might have squandered a few chances but I’m certainly not disappointed in Andreas,” the 43-year-old said. “It’s a normal part of the game for players to miss some opportunities.”
Bring on Brazil
Austria will be hoping to put the Panama game behind them and focus on their upcoming clash with a powerful Brazil, whom they may have to beat if they want to go further in Colombia. Weimann, who turns 20 on Friday, knows that he cannot afford a similar bout of profligacy in this vital game.
“We wanted to get off to a strong start and win our first match, but now we have to try our best in the next two fixtures if we want to progress and qualify for the Round of 16,” he said.
And as our interview concluded, Weimann sounded cautiously optimistic about the challenge ahead: “We’ll be studying our opponents’ previous matches, and we’ll also try to analyse the Brazil team and how they play. It’s going to be a difficult game but we’ll do our best to win and keep our hopes alive.”