Austria picks Marko Arnautovic despite club ban
VIENNA (AP) — Austria midfielder Marko Arnautovic was selected Wednesday for the 2014 World Cup qualifier against Sweden in June despite not playing club football since being banned by Werder Bremen in April for speeding.
Arnautovic and teammate Eljero Elia missed the last four matches of the Bundesliga season after being caught going over the speed limit on a highway.
Austria coach Marcel Koller said he included Arnautovic in the 23-man squad because of “his football qualities.”
“We are awaiting a very important game and we need the best players,” Koller said. “Arnautovic has been punished for what he’s done in Bremen. I spoke with him and told him I don’t approve of his behavior but it wasn’t a bank robbery. These are young guys ... he hasn’t done anything wrong while being with the national team, and I don’t see a reason to change anything.”
Arnautovic has scored seven goals in 26 internationals.
Austria will miss suspended midfielder Veli Kavlak for the June 7 game against Sweden in Group C, which also includes Germany, Ireland, Kazakhstan and Faeroe Islands.
Germany has 16 points from six matches, followed by Sweden with eight points from four games. Austria and Ireland have eight after five.
Goalkeepers: Robert Almer (Fortuna Duesseldorf), Heinz Lindner (Austria Vienna), Ramazan Oezcan (Ingolstadt).
Defenders: Aleksandar Dragovic (FC Basel), Christian Fuchs (Schalke), Gyoergy Garics (Bologna), Florian Klein (Salzburg), Manuel Ortlechner (Austria Vienna), Emanuel Pogatetz (West Ham), Sebastian Proedl (Werder Bremen), Markus Suttner (Austria Wien).
Midfielders: David Alaba (Bayern Munich), Marko Arnautovic (Werder Bremen), Julian Baumgartlinger (Mainz), Andreas Ivanschitz (Mainz), Jakob Jantscher (Dynamo Moscow), Zlatko Junuzovic (Werder Bremen), Christoph Leitgeb (Salzburg), Franz Schiemer (Salzburg).
Forwards: Martin Harnik (Stuttgart), Philipp Hosiner (Austria Vienna), Marc Janko (Trabzonspor), Andreas Weimann (Aston Villa).