Linz: I'm in with a shout for Austria

In the Austrian Bundesliga, Austria Vienna are now just a point off Trenkwalder Admira at the top after running up a convincing 3-0 win away to the surprise leaders. Coach Karl Daxbacher and his men moved onto 26 points following the victory over the high-flying newcomers in last weekend’s top-of-the-table clash at Trenkwalder Arena.

The Vienna club have scored 31 goals in the league so far this term, seven of them coming from Roland Linz, who is joint top scorer for Die Veilchen (The Violets) with team-mate Nacer Barazite. Linz has carried on where he left off last season, when he finished as the best marksman in the Austrian top flight on 21 goals.

Despite his vital contribution, the striker is not always guaranteed a start with his club, although he is unruffled by the situation. “In recent games, it was just that the boss picked different tactics. When you’re a pro, you have to be able to cope with these things. Obviously, I'd like to start every match, and I believe that will again be the case over the short or long-term. My record speaks in my favour," he exclusively told FIFA.com.

Captain and role model
Despite the fact he has made acquaintance with the subs’ bench more often than he would like recently, Linz is fully conscious of his role within the team. At 30 years of age, the skipper rates as one of the most experienced players at the club. “We have a young team, so a 30-year-old is very much one of the older guys, and you obviously have a certain standing as a role model. The captain has to put himself at the disposal of the team. I enjoy it a lot, and I'm very happy to captain the side."

Germany are clearly the favourites, there's no two ways about it. Sweden are very strong too, so yet again, it'll be very, very difficult for us.
Linz on Austria's Brazil 2014 qualifying group

 

The likeable Austrian regards the team as far more important than any individual player, as becomes abundantly clear when he is asked to name his personal goals. “We're still in all three competitions. We can still make the next round of the UEFA Europa League, we're up there at the top in the Bundesliga, and we're still in the Austrian cup, so we have plenty of opportunities. Making the next round of the Europa League, and doing well in the championship, are certainly the big targets for the club and for us as players," he declared.

Linz made his maiden appearance for his country on 27 March 2002 and has earned a further 39 caps, the most recent of them in a friendly against Greece almost a year ago. Understandably, another of the player’s targets is a return to the national set-up, although the call never came for the most recent match against Ukraine, the first under new coach Marcel Koller. “Personally, I reckon I'm in with a chance again. If I deliver for my club and score goals, he'll certainly call me back into the national team," the 30-year-old said confidently, making no secret of his enthusiasm for the new boss.

Pleased with Koller hiring
Even before his first match in charge, Koller faced a barrage of criticism from the media, but Linz is at a loss to explain why. “In my personal opinion, Marcel Koller is a very experienced coach, who was extremely successful with Grasshoppers in Switzerland and also did very well with smaller clubs in Germany. So in this respect, I think it's a good solution. His name might not be particularly well known in Austria, but he has plenty of good attributes as a coach, which he's proved wherever he's been," the player summarised.

It may well be that Linz resumes his international career and goes for goal in Austria colours in qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. There is no doubting the severity of the challenge facing the Alpine republic, as they contest Group C along with Germany, Sweden, Republic of Ireland, the Faroes and Kazakhstan. “Germany are clearly the favourites, there's no two ways about it. Sweden are very strong too, so yet again, it'll be very, very difficult for us. Everything will have to come together, and with a bit of luck, second place may just be within reach."