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Match Previews

Preview: GAK Graz v Crystal Palace

16 July 2014

GAK Graz are a phoenix club, formed in 2012 following the dissolution of Grazer Athletik-Sport Klub. 

The Grazer AK brand continues to operate basketball, diving and tennis teams, due to the fact that they all act as separate legal entities, but the football side of the club was disbanded two years ago following financial troubles. 

That means that the newly-formed GAK Graz have had to work their way up from the bottom of the Austrian footballing pyramid and currently ply their trade in the seventh tier. 

Grazer AK were initially formed in 1902, three years before Crystal Palace, and slowly grew into one of Austria’s big hitters. 

In 1962, the club qualified for Europe for the first time, with their European bow coming against Odense BK in the Cup Winners Cup. 

That was the first of what soon became regular appearances in continental competition, with qualification for the UEFA Cup achieved on a number of occasions during the 1980’s, including in 1981 after lifting the Austrian Cup.  

Grazer AK’s ‘golden era’ came after the turn of the millennium, when they lifted domestic cup silverware in 2000 and 2002. But their biggest success came in 2004 when they completed an historic double, lifting the cup and the league title. 

Just three seasons later, Grazer AK went into administration, with the club docked a massive 28 points as punishment. 

By 2008, their financial woes hit such a low that the club was banished from Austria’s professional leagues and relegated to the Austrian Regional League Central. 

After a second bankruptcy, the club managed to achieve a settlement and accommodation with its creditors in September 2008, ensuring its survival. 

Soon after though, the club found itself in even more trouble and they were eventually dissolved in 2012. 

The phoenix club, GAK Graz, was set up months later by passionate supporters, even though they had to start life in the bottom tier, but they are already on the way back up the ladder.

Crystal Palace’s pre-season training camp in Austria culminates in this evening’s friendly against GAK Graz, which kicks off at 6pm BST.

Manager Tony Pulis will use the game as a way of gauging the fitness levels of his squad as they gear up for their tour of the United States of America, which starts on Sunday and includes three more friendlies against Columbus Crew, Philadelphia Union and Richmond Kickers. 

Summer signing Chris Kettings could get his first taste of Palace action between the sticks, although three other goalkeepers – Julian Speroni, Wayne Hennessey and Lewis Price – are also in the travelling party and pushing for game time.

Development youngsters Hiram Boateng, Jerome Williams and Jake Gray will all be hoping to play a part as they continue their bid to impress the first team coaches, but Mile Jedinak will definitely not be involved.

The Eagles captain has been given an extended break following his World Cup exploits with Australia, while fellow midfielder Adlene Guedioura has also been allowed to miss the trip after being a part of Algeria’s provisional World Cup squad earlier this summer. 

Crystal Palace (from): Barry Bannan, Hiram Boateng, Yannick Bolasie, Jose Campana, Marouane Chamakh, Scott Dann, Damien Delaney, Stephen Dobbie, Dwight Gayle, Jake Gray, Wayne Hennessey, Jack Hunt, Joe Ledley, Adrian Mariappa, Paddy McCarthy, Glenn Murray, Stuart O’Keefe, Chris Kettings, Lewis Price, Jason Puncheon, Peter Ramage, Julian Speroni, Jerome Thomas, Joel Ward, Jerome Williams, Jonny Williams.

You can follow live updates from this evening’s pre-season friendly via our official Twitter account, @CPFC, from 6pm BST. 

We’ll have a full match report and post-match reaction from inside the camp here on after the final whistle, with highlights from the Eagles’ first warm-up game of the summer also available on Palace Player tomorrow. 

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