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Austria: Mission title defence

The team as a whole has been through what can only be called intensive preparations: training camps, individual programmes and international tournaments. But the most intensive time is still to come: seven days' World Championship in Austria. A week in which anything and everything can happen, when expectations are high, but also a week in which things might not always go to plan. A week in which preparation is not the be all and end all, and a week when how the team plays on the day will be decisive.

"Even though the preparations have been very demanding and intensive and we have had some really tough decisions to make in terms of the nominations, the time has been extremely life-enhancing for me personally. So many discussions, experiences and thoughts all geared towards packing our bags ready for the WCH, the people who have worked both in and close to the team, all things I wouldn't want to be without. And there is something else besides: I have come out of this work a stronger person and there are many things I will benefit from also later in life.
I'm already looking forward to the start, to putting our hard work into practice and also being able to enjoy - thanks to the incredible organisation and fantastic locations - a week of what will hopefully be unforgettable experiences.
Many thanks to all the people who have made all this possible, on both the sporting side and those involved in the organisation. Winfried Kronsteiner, Austrian team trainer

Winfried Kronsteiner will also be joined by thousands of Austrians in looking forward to the WCH. Media interest is bigger than ever before, the effort put into making sure that everything will be carried out in the best possible way is unrivalled in the history of the Fistball World Championship. Advance ticket sales point to incredible attendance figures - perfect conditions for this major event and the "red-white-red" (the colours of the Austrian flag) mission. However, defending the title on home ground will by no means be an easy undertaking and the pressure is mounting on the team. Pressure that the team has to cope with without being overawed so they can still go into the matches with clear heads. Austria will have to show what they are capable of as nations such as Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, Argentina and Chile are just waiting for a chance to catch the reigning World Champions of 2007 off guard and teach them a lesson to remember. Trainer Kronsteiner knows, however, that the Austrian team has great potential. He considers the team to be well prepared for almost any situation that may arise and it is not for nothing that he has nominated five attackers instead of the usual four. "We want to force our game on our opponents."

It has been a long, hard and very intensive time of preparation the Austrians have been through. Over two months of the last year has been spent together in team training camps, hours have been invested in the players' individual physical fitness, international matches have been played and finally the squad was reduced from 25 to 10 players. 10 men who are now fully prepared for the World Championship, who will make every effort to make fistball spectacular and fight for gold at the same time.

And these are the 10 Austrian hopefuls:

Jean Andrioli, new Austrian citizen with an attack repertoire that ranges from brute force to a remarkable angle strike, unites Brazilian flair and Austrian preparation.

Dietmar Weiss, the cannon among the Austrian Attackers. His powerful 25m strikes often drive the opponent's defence to the point of despair.

Martin Weiss, family man, house-builder and team stalwart. Having already taken part in four World Championships he is certainly not lacking in experience.

Michael Feichtenschlager, the fastest shoulder in the land with the tiger tattoo. With peak speeds of up to 140 km/h he literally fires the ball to his opponents.

Klemens Kronsteiner, fistballer through and through, all-rounder and team player. Whether it's attack, set or defence, he works with absolute perfection to support his team.

Siegfried Simon, aka "The Gato", is the systematic setter in the Austrian team. Guaranteed perfection combined with spectacular defence reactions are his hallmark.

Karl Rick, oldest player in the team and guarantee for stable defence. There is hardly an attack he cannot defuse with impressive ease.

Christian Leitner, aka Schoko, controls actions and build-up from defence to attack.

Stefan Winterleitner, the young rookie who knows no fear. Takes opponents' breath away with extraordinary defensive moves.

Benjamin Eglseer, young father and genuine Kremser. Stands out through calm defending, reliable setting and sheer ambition.

Team Austria