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Pride of Austria at stake as Sturm travel to BATE

Published: Monday 15 August 2011, 19.10CET
SK Sturm Graz coach Franco Foda says his side will be doing it "for all of Austria" when they travel to Belarus to take on FC BATE Borisov in the UEFA Champions League play-off first leg.
by Steffen Potter & Denis Orlov
Pride of Austria at stake as Sturm travel to BATE
Mario Haas (No7) played for Sturm in the group stage in 1998/99 ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

BATESturm

Goals scored9
 
7
Attempts on target28
 
25
Attempts off target58
 
26
Corners35
 
19
Offsides17
 
18
Fouls committed79
 
81
Yellow cards15
 
13
Red cards1
 
0
 
Published: Monday 15 August 2011, 19.10CET

Pride of Austria at stake as Sturm travel to BATE

SK Sturm Graz coach Franco Foda says his side will be doing it "for all of Austria" when they travel to Belarus to take on FC BATE Borisov in the UEFA Champions League play-off first leg.

SK Sturm Graz are trying to reach the UEFA Champions League group stage appearance for the first time since 2000/01 with coach Franco Foda insisting his side will be doing it "for all of Austria" when they take on Belarusian champions FC BATE Borisov.

It would be absolute madness if we cleared this hurdle, it would be extraordinary for the entire country
Mario Haas
If the lads approach these matches in good form and with the proper mentality we should be very capable of qualifying
Aleksandr Pavlov

Having remained unbeaten in negotiating their way past Videoton FC and FC Zestafoni, Sturm can take heart from their record of just one defeat in seven qualifying matches in Europe's top club competition as they travel to Minsk determined to fly the flag for Austrian football.

"This would be important, not only for the club but for all of Austria," said Foda. "We have been brave to get this far in qualifying but now it is important to achieve a good result in Belarus. We have a 50-50 chance but if we play two good games we will have the opportunity to bring Austria back into the elite of European club football after a lengthy break."

Sturm will be able to call on the experience of 36-year-old striker Mario Haas, the only member of the current squad who featured in their first UEFA Champions League group stage appearance in 1998/99. "I am extremely keen to get back into the Champions League," said Haas, who has been capped 43 times by Austria. "It would be absolute madness if we cleared this hurdle, it would be extraordinary for the entire country."

Foda's charges have taken just five points from their opening four matches in the Austrian Bundesliga, while opponents BATE have been in fine form. The title holders sit eight points clear after 21 games despite Saturday's 1-0 reverse at the hands of FC Minsk.

Coach Viktor Goncharenko hopes his side will show the strength of character to bounce back from only their second defeat of the season. "We didn't show our usual movement, played without proper desire and as a result didn't create enough opportunities," said Goncharenko. "I hope this defeat will help our players approach the Sturm fixture with the right mentality. We are in better form at the moment as Austrian league has more or less only just started."

The BATE players were also in confident mood ahead of the game in Minsk despite being without Renan Bressan, who is suspended after being sent off just minutes after scoring in the third qualifying round victory against FK Ekranas. "The Austrians are definitely not stronger [than us]," said Aleksandr Pavlov, who is sidelined by injury, as are Evgeni Kuntsevich, Dmitri Likhtarovich and Igor Shitov. "If the lads approach these matches in good form and with the proper mentality we should be very capable of qualifying."

Last updated: 16/08/11 11.55CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2012/matches/round=2000262/match=2007553/prematch/preview/index.html#bate+host+determined+sturm

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