Marko Arnautovic spoke in Zenica of a “completely undeserved defeat. We didn’t play well at all, but neither did Bosnia.”
Zenica – Austria’s soccer team players were very disillusioned on Tuesday. After mostly promising test matches, the Nations-League opening match was lost 1-0 to Bosnia-Herzegovina, which means that three victories from the three outstanding games are probably necessary for the targeted first place in the group.
Marko Arnautovic spoke of a “completely undeserved defeat” in Zenica. “We didn’t play well at all, but neither did Bosnia. A draw would have been fair. We played badly and still dominated the match,” said the West Ham professional.
“Everyone has a bad day once in a while.”
The drop in performance happened in the first competition game under team boss Franco Foda. “Everyone has a bad day. We had it today,” said Arnautovic. The Viennese was annoyed by his opinion of many controversial referee decisions. “A Bosnian defender played the ball with his hand when he countered in front of the goal,” explained the Viennese.
However, the defeat was not only due to the referee. “In the first half we played too many long balls, which we should not have done. In the second half it was better, we also had a few chances,” said Arnautovic, who had been captained by the Austrian Football Federation for the first time and who was booed out by the Bosnian audience because of his Serbian roots. “If people think they have to boo me, let them do it. I don’t care.”
“Have a great crew”
Rather, the 29-year-old was interested in highlighting the team spirit within the Austrian selection. “We have a great team, we always stick together, we do everything together. It’s not the attitude, but there was a bit of aggressiveness missing that we won the second balls.”
But Arnautovic also resisted criticism. “We can’t talk negatively any more, but I don’t talk negatively. We have lost the game, try to win the next three, and the story has changed. I know what my team can do. I know that we have enough quality to win the next games.”
Franco Foda Honours
1. FC Kaiserslautern
- DFB-Pokal 1989–90
- DFB-Pokal: 1992–93
- Austrian Football Bundesliga: 1997–98, 1998–99
- Austrian Cup: 1998–99
- Austrian Supercup: 1999
- Austrian Cup: 2009–10
- Austrian Football Bundesliga: 2010–11
“Nothing is lost yet”
Sebastian Prödl agreed with this opinion. “Nothing is lost yet. We still have three games, two of them at home,” the Styrian recalled. “We still have two competitions in which we have a good chance of qualifying for the European Championships.“
In order to make it to EURO 2020, we have to learn the right lessons from our performance in Zenica. “We made our opponents strong with our own mistakes. In stadiums like this against teams like this, you can only survive if you have the upper hand in the duels, and we missed them,” explained Prödl. To know more about Reel Island and their promotions and bonuses, see them here.
“Let the critics come.”
In both halves they had completed a good first 20 minutes, but then lost the thread. “The defeat is not the fault of the Bosnians, we have to chalk them up to ourselves,” the Watford regional angered. “That wasn’t self-advertising today, but a lesson – not a lesson from the Bosnians, but how best not to do it anymore.”
The central defender is now prepared for a noticeable headwind from the public. “But the critics should come. If, after such a game, we’re not even our sharpest critics, we’re very thin-skinned and far from reality,” said Prödl.
Despite all the disappointment, however, one should not forget the positive achievements of the past months. It would be wrong “to think away all the euphoria and self-confidence,” warned the 31-year-old. “We must not bury our heads in the sand, because we have seen that the Bosnians are no better than us either.”
Prödl faked the ball slightly at the decisive goal by Edin Dzeko. Nevertheless, the goal could possibly have been prevented, confessed ÖFB goalie Heinz Lindner. “On a good day, I can hold the shot.”
The Upper Austrian and his teammates already have a chance to make amends on 12 October in their home match against Northern Ireland, which is also still pointless. Four days later an away test match against Denmark will take place.
The Nations-League group phase will be concluded in November with the matches against Bosnia (15th / home) and Northern Ireland (18th / away). Group number one, which is determined by a direct duel if the points are equal, entitles the player to participate in the Nations-League play-off for a ticket to the European Championship and to promotion to League A if necessary. The taillight must be in league C and slips into pot three at the draw for the European Championship qualification.