SV Kapfenberg coach Werner Gregoritsch is confident the club can re-establish itself in the Austrian Bundesliga after ending a 41-year absence from the élite with promotion this season.
The Steyr outfit were a fixture in the top flight during the 1950s and 1960s, but have spent much of their recent history in the less glamorous surrounds of Austria's regional leagues. Indeed, as recently as last season, Kapfenberg were facing relegation from the second tier, only to be reinstated after Grazer AK and VfB Admira Wacker Mödling had their licences revoked.
The current campaign witnessed a dramatic turnaround in fortunes, however, with the 3-2 victory against SC Austria Lustenau last time out taking them eight points clear of second-placed FC Gratkorn with one game remaining. Two new signings have already been made - with Andreas Rauscher arriving from Gratkorn and Arno Kozelsky from DSV Leoben - as the club aim to consolidate their position next season.
SCR Altach, SV Ried and SV Mattersburg have all proved it is possible to compete with the leading clubs after earning promotion, and Gregoritsch is drawing comfort from the performances of those teams. "My side has not yet peaked and I feel we're capable of playing a similar role to Altach, Ried and Mattersburg," said the coach, who already has top-flight experience after taking Mattersburg up in 2003/04. "Our short-term objective is to remain in the Bundesliga, but we also have a vision of fielding a team made up 50 per cent of youth team products."
With their licence to compete in the Bundesliga next season already granted, and steps being taken to increase the seating capacity of their stadium to 3,000, Kapfenberg believe they are ready to return to the big time once again. And after waiting more than four decades, their supporters will be hoping the club is there to stay.
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