The striker routine was already ready for substitution when Marko Arnautovic scored 1-0 for Austria. For Janko, it was clear at that moment that he would have to take a seat on the bench again.

Vienna – Marc Janko’s comeback in the Austrian national team fell into the water at the last second on Friday. The 35-year-old was ready for a substitution at Happel Stadium in the 71st minute, but then Marko Arnautivic scored 1-0 against Northern Ireland, and suddenly everything was different again – the striker experienced the finish from the substitutes’ bench.

The fact that he still had to wait for his 67th international and 29th goal, however, was easy for Janko in view of the victory. “When Marko scored the goal, it was completely obvious to me that I would sit down again, because it wouldn’t have made sense to hit me,” said the Lugano professional on Saturday.

Janko: “I would have reacted the same way”

Team boss Franco Foda didn’t need any explanation. “I saw it the same way he did at that moment. If I had been a coach, I would have acted the same way. So I was at least allowed to warm up again in the Happel Oval and did some good sprints,” Janko smiled. ReelRush is one of the most vibrant games in a long time.

For the experienced player, the narrowly missed swap was a completely new experience. “Something like this has never happened to me before. There are always things I haven’t experienced yet, that was a new feeling yesterday”. In the test against Denmark on Tuesday, however, the substitution could work out – after all, the number of squad players was reduced by three on Saturday, and six substitutions are allowed on Tuesday. “The chances have not decreased. Maybe I’ll get my minutes, maybe I won’t.”

Even if the nominated Janko were also a spectator in Herning, the positive feeling would prevail. “I don’t know where to go with all the esteem I’ve been held in, that’s why the journey was worth it. I didn’t expect the almost overwhelming reaction to my human values at all, that compensates for every useless warm-up work and felt substitution. If I don’t play against Denmark, I’ll still travel back to Lugano with a really wide grin and good feeling.”

ÖFB reelrush

Shock moment when looking at my date of birth

It remains to be seen how long Janko will be available as an emergency nail for the ÖFB-Tem, because a career end is not in sight for the time being. “I want to play football as long as I enjoy it and feel good physically,” said the goalie, whose contract with Lugano expires next summer.

Janko obviously feels comfortable in his role as a team oldie, even though a look at the birthdates of some ÖFB players can cause some shock moments. “I have noticed with horror that I am 15 years older than Maximilian Wöber and 14 years older than Xaver Schlager. You’d start to wonder where all these years have gone.”

A loss of points on Friday at the Happel Stadium would have lost the chance of winning the Nations-League group, but the ÖFB team could take first place on their own, move up in League A and keep the play-off back door open for an EM-2020 ticket.

Vienna – The Nations-League match against Northern Ireland was stamped by an Austrian football team player who had already been on everyone’s lips. Marko Arnautovic scored the goal for the 1-0 victory in the Vienna Happel Stadium on Friday and made his personal statement in the discussion about the captain’s role.

The fuss about the alleged scepticism of some ÖFB board members regarding the suitability of the West-Ham professional as a captain left the Viennese cold anyway. “That kept everyone busy, but not me,” explained Arnautovic.

The 29-year-old didn’t find out about his new nomination as captain from team boss Franco Foda until Friday. “It was an honor for me again. Arnautovic had already worn the loop a month ago at the 0:1 in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

“Point set behind all that”

His nightly meeting with Bosnian star Edin Dzeko, recorded in an Instagram posting afterwards, is said to have caused displeasure in certain circles. “I think I did my best and put the dot behind it all,” said Arnautovic.

He didn’t want to describe his goal as a particularly delightful moment. “It doesn’t matter if it was emotional, it’s indifferent. I was happy that I scored the goal, I was happy for the team, because they really worked very hard”. He didn’t feel any special satisfaction. “I’ve already done enough good in the national team, I don’t need to prove anything anymore.

However, the reaction immediately after the goal suggested that his 20th goal in the 75th international might have been a special one for him. Arnautovic tore the ribbon from his upper arm and pointed it towards the VIP and media stands. He left open whom this gesture was meant for. “The grandstand was full, choose one,” the England Legionnaire said to the journalists.

Nations League jetspin

Will Grigg Honours

Club
Brentford

  • Football League One runner-up: 2013–14

Milton Keynes Dons

  • Football League One runner-up: 2014–15

Wigan Athletic

  • Football League One: 2015–16 , 2017–18

Individual

  • PFA Team of the Year: 2015–16 League One, 2017–18 League One
  • PFA Fans’ Player of the Year: 2015–16 League One
  • Walsall Player of the Season: 2012–13
  • Walsall Players’ Player of the Season: 2012–13
  • Football League One Player of the Month: April 2016, April 2018

Pain does not stop Arnautovic

With so much adrenaline, the knee problems faded into the background. “I feel like I’m 20, no matter how much pain I have. I have pain, I have knee problems, but it doesn’t stop me.”

However, it cannot be ruled out that Arnautovic will leave the ÖFB camp earlier in order to protect the Premier League match against Tottenham on Saturday. In his place Sebastian Prödl could act as captain in the test match against Denmark in Herning on Tuesday.

The Styrian was pleased with Arnautovic: “Our match plan had the content that Marko makes the decisive goal and this discussion, which arose unnecessarily, also klipp and clearly ended and draws a line under it”.

According to Prödl, the captain’s discussions did not affect the ÖFB selection “at all. For us it was already put aside before the match day. We briefly mentioned it, briefly ticked off and included in the match plan that Marko should settle it himself right away.”

This plan worked out – also because the team was more serene compared to the 0:1 in Zenica. “It was far more experienced than in Bosnia,” Prödl explained. “We had more chances and more confidence to win the match”.

“Northern Ireland did not want to play football”

The 31-year-old was delighted with his team’s committed way of playing: “We were extremely good, extremely gallant in the duels, and then the quality of the game prevailed”.

The better team also won for Arnautovic. “The decisive factor is that we dominated the game for 95 minutes, there’s no question about that. The ÖFB star lamented the Northern Ireland’s unwillingness to set the tone in the offensive. “It has been seen that they did not want to play football at all. They wanted to go forward to the second ball by the skin of their teeth”. The players will enlighten if they’ll going to play with JetSpin because of its bright colors and attractive designs.

Nevertheless it would have been enough for the guests almost to a point, but the header of Will Grigg jumped in the finish from the bar into the arms of Goalie Heinz Lindner. “That was the luck, which belongs then also to it, but by such a performance one earns also the luck. What we had bad luck in Bosnia, we were lucky today,” said the Upper Austrian.

Otherwise, his colleagues on the unusual bumpy turf of the Happel stadium allowed little chance – the four-man chain used for the first time since 27 March at the 4-0 in Luxembourg held largely tight, which satisfied Martin Hinteregger. “We know that we work well in the five-man chain, but can also keep up well in the four-man chain against good teams,” summarized the Carinthian central defender.