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Wednesday, February 16, 2005 

Austria - Athletic (Uefa Cup Preview)

FK Austria Wien have survived in UEFA competition until the spring for the first time in 20 years, but new general manager Toni Polster insists their ambition does not end there ahead of the match against Athletic Club Bilbao.

Polster positive
Although Austria have not played competitively since clinching a place in the last 32 of the UEFA Cup with a 2-1 win at FC Utrecht on 16 December, Polster does not feel that the prolonged rest will be a problem. "Our team seem to be like race horses who are waiting for their big day," he said. "We are not going into this match to lose. We are fresh, Bilbao have had some hard matches recently and they might be tired."

Kiesenebner misses out
The Austrian side are without midfield player Markus Kiesenebner due to a thigh problem, but otherwise have a full-strength squad. Günter Kronsteiner, the club's sports director, said: "We are a strong team. We have improved considerably in the last year, and we can give a Bilbao hard time. Our chances are 40-60 to get through."

Etxeberria confident
Athletic go into the match in similarly positive mood, with Joseba Etxeberria emphasising their confidence ahead of the visit to Vienna. "We will be going all out to win," said the Athletic forward. "That way a draw will be enough in the return. We are expecting Austria to attack us from the start - after all they are the home side. I just hope the playing surface has not suffered too much from the snow and icy temperatures."

Source: Uefa.com

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