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Oct 24, 2006

Struggling Austrian champions name new coach

VIENNA, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Austrian league champions Austria Vienna have named former Rapid Vienna trainer Georg Zellhofer as their new coach following the Monday night sacking of Frenkie Schinkels.

Schinkels steered Austria to a league and cup double last season but saw his side make a terrible start to the new campaign.

With just two wins from their first 13 matches, the club are bottom of the Bundesliga and suffered further misery on Sunday with a 4-0 defeat away against runaway leaders Salzburg.

Schinkel's task was not made easier by the offloading of several first team players as part of a summer clearout ordered by the club's billionaire backer Frank Stronach.

Strikers Roland Linz and Sigard Rushfeldt and goalkeeper Joye Didulica were among 12 players to leave Austria with cheaper replacements being brought in primarily from other Austrian clubs.

Zellhofer made a name for himself with Pasching, taking the lowly club from Austria's fifth division to the Bundesliga in six seasons before celebrating top four finishes in 2004 and 2005.

He was took charge of Rapid in Jan. 2006 following Josef Hickersberger's appointment as trainer of the Austrian national side, but was released in August after Rapid suffered four defeats in their opening seven matches.

'Georg Zellhofer is a specialist who has already proven, particularly at Pasching, that he can develop teams as well as integrate youth players,' newly-appointed general manager Thomas Parits said in a club statement.

'I am convinced that he will manage to put Austria back where they belong.'