Coach Marcel Koller to leave Austria after 6-year stint
VIENNA (AP) Austria coach Marcel Koller is leaving the national team at the end of the year.
The Austrian soccer federation decided Friday not to renew his contract, ending the Swiss coach’s six-year stint in charge.
”Koller has to be thanked for his great work but the sober reality is that we won four of our last 18 games. In the end only the results count,” the president of the federation, Leo Windtner, said following a five-hour-long executive committee meeting to discuss the coach’s future.
Windtner said the committee had not been unanimous but that ”a majority of the board has decided that the contract will be fulfilled but not extended.”
Koller will still be in charge of the team for its final two World Cup qualifiers, against Serbia and Moldova in October. Austria is unlikely to qualify for next year’s tournament in Russia, although it still has a mathematical chance of finishing second in Group D, which also includes Wales and Ireland.
According to Windtner, the federation was yet to speak about possible candidates but didn’t rule out that Koller’s successor might already be in charge for a friendly game against a yet unknown opponent in November.
Koller has been Austria’s longest-serving coach since Hugo Meisl led the team for 18 years between 1919 and 1937. Under Koller, Austria won 23 of its 54 matches and lost 16 times.
Spending his entire career as a player with Grasshoppers, Koller played 55 times for the Swiss national team. He coached FC Wil, St. Gallen, Grasshoppers and Bundesliga sides Cologne and Bochum, but had been without a job for over two years when he was appointed by the Austrian federation in November 2011.
Koller became the figurehead of Austria’s resurrection. The team won nine of its 10 qualifiers and entered the top 10 of the FIFA rankings as he guided Austria to the 2016 European Championship, the first major event the team qualified for since the 1998 World Cup.
However, the decline set in with a poor showing and a group-stage exit at Euro 2016 in France, followed by a disappointing qualifying campaign which has left Austria with no realistic chance to reach next year’s World Cup in Russia.