Austria drops Ivanschitz for Sweden qualifier
VIENNA (AP) — Austria coach Marcel Koller has dropped former captain Andreas Ivanschitz from the national team for next month’s European Championship qualifier against Sweden.
The 30-year-old Levante midfielder, who has played 69 matches for Austria, was missing from the 23-man squad announced Tuesday by Koller.
“It wasn’t an easy decision but I wanted more speed in midfield,” said the coach, adding that Ivanschitz’s international career wasn’t necessarily over. “This doesn’t mean he will never be part of the team again. He has done a lot for Austria over the years.”
Ivanschitz became Austria’s youngest ever captain at 19 under coach Hans Krankl in 2003. He wasn’t called up from 2009-2011 by then coach Dietmar Constantini but returned to the team after Koller took over.
Koller also overlooked Aston Villa striker Andreas Weimann and Salzburg defender Franz Schiemer while giving 1860 Munich striker Rubin Okotie his first call-up in five years.
“I wanted to try something different,” Koller said. “I have been following Okotie for a long time. He has started the season in Munich very well and is carrying the momentum.”
Midfielders David Alaba, Veli Kavlak and Martin Harnik were returning from injury after missing the 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in a friendly in June.
Austria plays Sweden in Vienna on Sept. 8 in Group G, which also includes Russia, Montenegro, Moldova and Liechtenstein.
Austria and Sweden also met in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup with each team winning its home game 2-1 though both failed to reach the final tournament in Brazil.
Goalkeepers: Robert Almer (Hannover), Heinz Lindner (Austria Vienna), Ramazan Oezcan (Ingolstadt)
Defenders: Aleksandar Dragovic (Dynamo Kiev), Christian Fuchs (Schalke), Gyoergy Garics (Bologna), Martin Hinteregger (Salzburg), Florian Klein (Stuttgart), Sebastian Proedl (Werder Bremen), Markus Suttner (Austria Vienna), Kevin Wimmer (Koeln)
Midfielders: David Alaba (Bayern Munich), Marko Arnautovic (Stoke), Julian Baumgartlinger (Mainz), Martin Harnik (Stuttgart), Stefan Ilsanker (Salzburg), Zlatko Junuzovic (Werder Bremen), Veli Kavlak (Besiktas), Valentino Lazaro (Salzburg), Christoph Leitgeb (Salzburg)
Forwards: Marc Janko (Sydney), Rubin Okotie (1860 Munich), Marcel Sabitzer (Salzburg)