Title-chasing SK Rapid Wien have received a double boost ahead of Sunday's derby against champions FK Austria Wien after extending the contracts of coach Josef Hickersberger and captain Steffen Hofmann for a further two years until 2006.
Hickersberger succeeded former Germany captain Lothar Matthäus as coach at the beginning of the 2002/03 campaign. This season he has kept his young team in the hunt for the championship, where they sit third, just three points behind leaders Austria with a game in hand.
'Optimistic about the future'
"I am very pleased that the club's board have kept faith in me for two more years and I am optimistic about the future of my team," said the 55-year-old, who led his country at the 1990 FIFA World Cup. "The team has great potential and we can achieve much in the next two years."
Midfield player Hofmann has also signed a new deal which runs until 2006, but it is understood it contains a get-out clause which allows him to leave if another club make a bid in excess of an undisclosed figure.
"I would have signed before the winter, but all the discussions about a possible transfer had made negotiations come to a standstill," said the 23-year-old German, who had been linked with a move back to his homeland.
Hofmann joined Rapid in summer 2002 from FC Bayern München's amateur side and his impressive displays saw him become the youngest captain in the club's history.
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