Austrian striker's second chance

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

Erwin Hoffer is looking to make the most of a second chance.

The Austrian striker was suspended for the semifinal at the Under-19 European championships last summer after picking up a second yellow card in the previous match.

Without him on the field, Austria lost 5-0 to Spain who went on to win the tournament.

"On the (bus) back to the hotel after the match, he was bawling his eyes out," Austrian head coach Paul Gludovatz told FIFA.com.

Despite the loss, Austria qualified for Under-20 World Cup with its semifinal appearance. It's the first time in 24 years the country will compete in FIFA's second-biggest tournament.

"I'm nervous," Hoffer said. "But above all I'm really motivated."

Hoffer, 19, is regarded as one of the most talented strikers ever produced in Austria. Having moved to Rapid Vienna from Admira Wacker, he scored four goals in three matches to get Austria into the semifinal of the European championships last year.

Blessed with a powerful and precise shot, Hoffer started his career with Casino Baden in Austria before moving to Admira as a teenager. He played his first top-division game with Admira just days after his 18th birthday. He scored four goals in 17 appearances with Rapid Vienna last season.

In 32 youth international games, Hoffer has 19 goals, including a pair in a 6-1 exhibition win against Austrian League runnerup SV Reid.

At the World Cup, Austria is in a group with Chile, the Congo and host Canada.

"We mustn't underestimate our opponents," Hoffer said. "And if we remember that, then our main aim, which is to reach the second round, becomes more realistic.

"When I see all of the world-class footballers who started out at the U-20 World Cup, then I know that it's a real honour for me to be taking part."

AUSTRIA #9

ERWIN HOFFER

Born April 14, 1987, in Vienna .... Nicknamed "Jimmy" after U.S. Teamsters Union boss Jimmy Hoffa ... Made his senior team debut in a 0-0 tie against Paraguay on June 2 ... Missed European U-19 semifinal against Spain due to suspension ... Scored two goals in a 4-1 victory over Belgium in the quarter-finals of European championships to earn Austria a semifinal berth and therefore a spot at the U-20 World Cup.


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