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Ice hockey euphoria: The ambassador cheered with the fans in Prague

Ice hockey euphoria: The ambassador cheered with the fans in Prague
Ambassador Bettina Kirnbauer (center) next to Franz Teufel, president of the UFTA fan club

It would have been a piece of cake for Bettina Kirnbauer to get VIP tickets for the big ice hockey sensation against Finland (3:2). But Austria’s ambassador in Prague wanted to accept the invitation that the UFTA fan club had extended and watch this memorable World Cup match in the middle of the red-white-red supporters. “I’m thrilled, I really enjoyed it,” said Kirnbauer, who welcomed the national team before the start of the tournament in the residence, the palace of Albrecht Hlozek von Zampach. Captain Thomas Raffl gave her a signed jersey that brought good luck.

Sports Minister Werner Kogler is also impressed by the performances of the local cracks, who will face World Cup hosts the Czech Republic this evening (8:20 p.m., ORF Sport+) in front of almost 18,000 visitors, and is considering stopping by for a quick visit.

The match against Norway on Sunday (4:20 p.m., ORF Sport+) would be a good fit. In this showdown, for which UFTA (United Fans Team Austria) has declared the afternoon of traditional costume with dirndl and lederhosen, Austria is on paper not such a blatant outsider as it was against Switzerland (5:6), record champion Canada (6 :7 n.V.), Finland and the six-time champion Czech Republic.

“New day, new game”

Team boss Roger Bader is not thinking about accepting the role of favorite, even though the Scandinavians wrote World Cup history in a negative sense on Thursday. In the 4-1 defeat against Canada, they didn’t manage a single shot on goal in the first two periods.

But the 59-year-old Swiss is not blinded by this, nor by the statistics that Austria was number one before the Czech Republic game. No other national team was more efficient than the ensemble around captain Thomas Raffl. Almost every fifth shot found its way into the net (success rate 19.74 percent).

“New day, new game, new challenge. We have to put aside what was before,” said NHL star Marco Rossi. Hymns of praise from the Finnish cabin are also a thing of the past, even if they go down like oil. “With the Austrians’ first goal, things went wrong for us. They did a really good job and were rightly rewarded for it in the end (0.2 seconds before the siren, note). It’s good for them. That’s ice hockey “, said double world champion Mikael Granlund with the experience of 878 NHL matches.

“We knew it would be a tough match for us. We definitely didn’t underestimate Austria, this team is playing a good tournament,” added the 32-year-old.

Fearful enemy Norway?

Now the red-white-red focus is on the Norwegians, who have won the last four World Cup duels with Austria – 3:2 n. V. (2007), 5:0 (2011), 5:3 (2019) and 5:3 (2022). What catches the eye are Mats Zuccarello, Rossi’s club colleague at the Minnesota Wild, and old master Patrick Thoresen, who wants to do it again at 40.

“This is a good international, unpleasant team with a strong first block. But we are confident that we can beat them,” said Bader.

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