Patrick Siefkes of SV Drochtersen/Assel has already caused problems for the likes of FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Mönchengladbach. Now, this coming Saturday (at 15:30 CEST), his next notable opponents FC Schalke 04 await. In an interview with DFB.de’s Oliver Jensen, the goalkeeper discussed how an amateur team goes about facing the likes of FC Schalke 04, and how lower league teams should approach the cup.
DFB.de: Mr Siefkes, you have lost in previous years against top teams such as Borussia Mönchengladbach and FC Bayern Munich. Does the phrase “All good things come in threes” apply to this game against FC Schalke 04?
Patrick Siefkes: The weight of expectation has certainly risen thanks to those two games. It has always been our goal to reach the next round – whether that be against Gladbach or Bayern. In the game against Schalke, that goal will not change. But yes, it will be just as difficult as the Bayern game, I suspect.
DFB.de: How does it feel, the weight of expectation?
Siefkes: If you speak to the local people here in the town, they’ll often say: “You can do it this year. You almost took the lead against Bayern.” But as a team, we don’t feel the pressure. We want to have fun during the game; we have a better chance of winning if we play like that.
DFB.de: Were you happy with the draw?
Siefkes: Since we’re a team from the north, we would have loved to play another northern team. But of course we’re excited to play one of the top teams in the Bundesliga. So we’re happy to play Schalke.
DFB.de: Schalke unexpectedly found themselves in a relegation battle last season and subsequently hired a new coach in David Wagner. What impression do you have of this new-look outfit?
Siefkes: Of course I follow the Bundesliga and how Schalke are doing. They have a coach who is likely to change a lot of things around, which isn’t a bad thing for us. At the end of the day, they are still a Bundesliga side, so it won’t be easy for us – regardless of who is on the pitch for them.
DFB.de: Are they any players you are excited to face?
Siefkes: Perhaps I’ll try to speak to Alexander Nübel after the game, or at least try and learn a few things from him. After all he really is a goalkeeper in the spotlight at the moment.
DFB.de: What is the relationship like between the professionals and the amateurs in these cup games?
Siefkes: It’s great. The players from both Gladbach and Bayern were really friendly, and above all, noticeably humble. We always have conversations with them when we’re in the tunnel for example. I also nearly managed to swap shirts with Manuel Neuer, but unfortunately one of my teammates got there before me.
DFB.de: Speaking from your own experience, how does an amateur team have to perform in the DFB-Pokal in order to cause problems for a well-established professional club?
Siefkes: Defensive stability is the key. You need to keep a strong shape and ensure that minimal space is available in behind the defence. You need to keep a clean sheet for as long as possible, lying in wait for a counter and taking every single chance that you get.
DFB.de: SV Drochtersen/Assel finished in fifth place in the Regionalliga Nord last season. What would you say are the strengths of your team?
Siefkes: We are a committed bunch. Everyone plays for each other – no matter who’s on the field. We aren’t a team with a particular player who clearly stands out individually. Everyone can contribute their own strengths. That’s what makes it so difficult for teams to play against us.
DFB.de: Which players, who have perhaps played at a higher level before, are the focal points of your team?
Siefkes: The majority of our players have predominantly played in the Regionalliga, however there are a few exceptions. For example our new addition, Ashton Götz, has previously played a few games for Hamburger SV in the Bundesliga. In the 2017/18 season he played in the top flight in the Netherlands. There are also a few players who have spent time at FC. St Pauli. Our midfielder Marcel Andrijanic made his professional debut there.
DFB.de: You have also played at a higher level; you were the substitute keeper for FC Carl Zeiss Jena and made 4 appearances in the 3. Liga. At that time, how close were you to having a long-term professional career?
Siefkes: I initially had a really good chance of having a long professional career. I played in goal for the last four games of the 2010/11 season and played well. Afterwards I had my contract extended for a further two years. I was told that I would become the number one keeper for the following season. Then, a week before the season started, a new keeper was brought in to play in front of me without giving me a reason. Suddenly I was the number two instead. However I also wasn’t allowed to leave the club. Then we were relegated and I had to sit on the bench in the Regionalliga because I was still not allowed to leave. Afterwards, I moved within the Regionalliga to FSV Wacker Nordhausen, and then later to SV Drochtersen/Assel.
DFB.de: Do you and the other SV Drochtersen/Assel players all have other jobs on the side?
Siefkes: Yes, none of us are professionals. Our players all have jobs or study. For example, I trained to be an office administrator and now work in an office.
DFB.de: Is SV Drochtersen/Assel a typical village club, where all the residents get the feeling that they are more or less involved?
Siefkes: Absolutely. For example, all the local sport shops stock our kits, the post office sells our memorabilia and tickets. Then there are also always lots of volunteers and helpers. Additional stands out. Lots of people in the village are involved in the Pokal games. Without them, it probably wouldn’t be possible to hold such a massive game here in the village.###more###