One for all, all for one say coaches

DEREK VAN DIEST, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

Erwin Hoffer and Fabrice Nguessi Ondama are big reasons why Austria and Congo are here at the Under-20 World Cup. However, their coaches were reluctant to single them out for their clubs' success. Soccer, after all, is a team game.

"We have 18 Hoffers and three goalkeepers," said Austrian coach Paul Gludovatz. "Hoffer is one of our good players, no more, no less."

Some would beg to differ.

Hoffer is considered to be one of the most talented players in Austria.

Jokingly nicknamed Jimmy after American union leader Jimmy Hoffa, the 20-year-old striker scored four goals in three matches at the European Under-19 championships last summer to help Austria qualify for this event.

With Hoffer out for a suspension, Austria lost 5-0 to Spain in the semifinal.

"It's possible Hoffer won't play in the first match," Gludovatz said.

"The team is the star. We'll put out the lineup that we feels gives us the best chance to win."

Congo seems to share that sentiment.

"We are a team," said Congo's head coach Eddie Hudanski. "A coach would never put one player above the team."

Perhaps, but Ondama, 19, was named the best player at the African Youth Championships which Congo won to qualify for the U-20.

One of the country's brightest talents, he is on the verge of transferring to Europe.

"He's a player with great quality," Hudanski said.

"He was the best player at the African championships. He's a very technical player. He's very fast and he's very calm on the ball."

Last season Ondama played for La Mancha in the Congolese league.

It's expected he'll sign probably with a French club next season. There has also been some interest from German teams.

"Fabrice has a good chance to play professionally in Europe," Hudanski said.

"But he has to work on being more consistent. Right now he's too up and down. He has the ability, but he has to work on his consistency."


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