- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 15, 2016

VIENNA (AP) - Marcel Koller will remain Austria coach after the European championship after extending his contract for two more years.

The Austrian football federation said Tuesday that Koller signed a deal that keeps him in the job until the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

“The team has potential to grow further,” Koller said. “It’s important to know about my future well before the European Championship so this won’t be an issue during our preparation.”

Koller took over from Dietmar Constantini in November 2011 after Austria failed to qualify for the Euro 2012 tournament. The team also missed out on the World Cup two years later but Koller renewed his contract, putting aside an offer from his native Switzerland to take over from then coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.

Under Koller, Austria earned 28 from a possible 30 points in a group that included Russia and Sweden to qualify for a European Championship for the first time, though it took part as a co-host in the 2008 tournament.



In the FIFA rankings, Austria has reached an all-time high of No. 10.

“In the past 4 ½ years we’ve built a homogeneous team which isn’t at the peak of its success yet,” said Koller, who becomes the longest reigning Austria coach since Herbert Prohaska was in charge for more than six years in the 1990s.

The president of the federation, Leo Windtner, said the renewal of Koller’s contract “brings continuity.”

“We’ve had too many changes of coaches in the past,” he said. “It was a clear wish from the players and the public opinion that we continue working with Marcel Koller.”

Austria plays Albania on March 26 and Turkey three days later, both in Vienna, in its first two friendlies of 2016.

Goalkeeper Robert Almer and winger Martin Harnik return to the team from knee injuries, while Koller included one debutant - Schalke attacking midfielder Alessandro Schoepf - in his 23-man squad.

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