For the first time since 1985, 1. FC Saarbrücken are back in the quarterfinals of the DFB-Pokal - as a fourth-tier team. FCS goalkeeper Daniel Batz played a decisive part in the triumph in the quarterfinals against second division Karlsruher SC with a 5-3 win on penalties. In an interview with DFB.de, the 29-year-old goalkeeper talks to staff member Ralf Debat about joy, celebrations and days off.
DFB.de: How short was the night after the cup coup against Karlsruher SC, Herr Batz?
Daniel Batz: Very short. In contrast to the first two rounds, where we had a league fixture just a few days later, we still have a little bit of time before the next game starts. The first game after the winter break will not take place until 22 February, at FSV Frankfurt. That meant we could celebrate properly this time. It went on until about 5 o'clock.
DFB.de: How and where was the party?
Batz: We were in downtown Saarbrücken with most of the team and had a great time for a change. We had to do that.
DFB.de: It's a good thing that your new coach Lukas Kwasniok has given the team four days off until Monday. How will you use the time?
Batz: First and foremost I will relax, enjoy the good weather and read a lot. After the first part of pre-season and the cup match, it will certainly do us all good to take a breather. From Monday onwards, we'll be concentrating fully on the start of the league.
DFB.de: 1. FCS are in the quarter finals of the DFB-Pokal, as the only team outside of the top three leagues. Apart from that, only Bundesliga clubs are still in competition. Would you have seriously considered this possible before the start of the cup season?
Batz: No, not at all. For us, it was already cool to be in the cup at all. Before the first-round match against Regensburg, we said to ourselves that we'll see what happens. And then it went on from round to round. I must admit that being in the quarter finals now is pretty surreal. Simply crazy.
DFB.de: How proud are you of your successes against professional clubs like SSV Jahn Regensburg, 1 FC Cologne and now KSC?
Batz: The meaning that this success has for the club, for the city, the region and for us all, will probably only later become apparent. The fact that FCS have reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 1985, and that we have made it as the first fourth-tier team since 2012, says a lot about how extraordinary this story is. But maybe we can continue writing the story.
DFB.de: FCS are aiming for promotion to the third tier, while Karlsruhe are fighting against relegation in the 2. Bundesliga. Would you even label the victory as a sensation?
Batz: Yes, of course. KSC play two leagues higher, and we were the clear underdog. However, I must also say: We were equals, from the first to the 120th minute.
DFB.de: In contrast to the Karlsruhe team, who had already played two league games this year, FCS had to make a "cold start". Was that not a problem?
Batz: That was definitely a small advantage for KSC. You could also see that we weren't quite in gear, especially in our attacking play. But this is completely normal in the first game after an extended break.
DFB.de: What was the key for you to prevent your opponent from taking control, and to keep the game open for 120 minutes?
Batz: The boys worked incredibly well at the back and defended strongly. The Karlsruhe players came up with practically nothing to put us in serious trouble. I didn't feel like I had much to do after my first touch of the ball until the end. It wasn't a particularly good watch for the spectators, but the game lived on the tension.
DFB.de: In the 3-2 wins against Regensburg and Cologne in the first two rounds, you, as a goalkeeper, were not so much the focus of attention as a cup hero. Is that perhaps why you even wanted a penalty shoot-out?
Batz: Certainly not. I would have preferred it if we had won after 90 minutes (laughs). But this was my first period of extra-time and also my first penalty shootout in professional football. Fortunately, it turned out well.
DFB.de: Were you certain that you would stop at least one Karlsruhe penalty?
Batz: I hoped so. I came close on the second penalty kick, but then it worked out for the third. All the better that it was enough to win.
DFB.de: Your teammates safely converted all five shots. Did you practice this before the game?
Batz: No, not at all. Before the penalty shootout, we made a circle and the coach asked who wanted to shoot. Five players then came forward. Even though we had nothing to lose at that point, I have to give the boys a huge pat on the back for their nerves of steel. I couldn't even look at it myself and only watched the penalties later on video.
DFB.de: Why don't you describe your emotional state when Christopher Schorch's last shot went in?
Batz: That was pure joy, simply indescribable. We will all live on that for a long time to come.
DFB.de: Off the pitch, Lukas Kwasniok once again thanked his predecessor Dirk Lottner, with whom the team reached the round of sixteen and also made it to the top of the table in the Southwest Regionalliga. Do you think the discussions about the unusual change of coach are now over?
Batz: We all have to thank the previous team of coaches, with whom we worked to reach the round of sixteen and our good position in the league. But in football, it's no longer yesterday that counts, rather only today and tomorrow. With the new coaching team, we have now achieved our first win. Further victories are to follow.
DFB.de: How did you feel about the first weeks of training under new management?
Batz: It started off very well. We are getting along very well with the new coaching team. Long may it continue.
DFB.de: The clear goal of the club, despite your cup success so far, is to win the championship and thus march on to the third tier. After several unsuccessful attempts, how do you see your chances this time?
Batz: As nice as our journey in the DFB-Pokal is and can still be, if we miss promotion again at the end of the season, it would be a huge disappointment. It's up to us. If we continue to show passion like we did against KSC, I'm very optimistic that we'll reach our goal.
DFB.de: Is your former club SV 07 Elversberg your biggest competitor?
Batz: I assume so. Elversberg also have great quality and want to go further. We will do everything to leave the competition behind.
DFB.de: You lost against SVE after the Pokal win against Cologne. Could your concentration on the league suffer as a result of reaching the cup quarter finals?
Batz: I don't think so. We are too focused on our goal in the league for that. However, it's also clear that it's a great challenge, not just physically, but also emotionally, when a league match is just a few days after a DFB-Pokal game. It's brutally difficult. We are not back to professional football yet. However, we will give everything to win the next league match in Walldorf after the quarterfinals at the beginning of March.
DFB.de: Finally, we've got to ask: Which opponent would you like to see Cacau draw out of the hat on Sunday at the German Football Museum?
Batz: Honestly, I don't care at all. It might be different if one of my former clubs like SC Freiburg or 1. FC Nürnberg were still in the competition. I'll just watch the draw on the couch and wait for it to happen. Regardless of the opponent, we will be the underdog either way. But we have already shown that we can create surprises. I don't think any of the seven Bundesliga clubs will be happy to come to us.