1. FC Saarbrücken have already made history by making it into the semi final of the DFB Pokal. On either 21st or 22nd April, the first ever fourth division side will line up as one of the final four teams left in the competition as they face Bayer 04 Leverkusen. FCS head coach Lukas Kwasniok discusses his side’s achievement with DFB.de.
DFB.de: What was your first thought when you were drawn Bayer 04 Leverkusen as your next opponent, Mr. Kwasniok?
Lukas Kwasniok: Luckily FC Astoria Walldorf, who we lost 1-0 against this weekend, aren’t still in the cup (laughs). In all honestly my ideal choice would have been Eintracht Frankfurt. They have a very passionate fan base. I also have lots of friends and family from around that area. Nevertheless, no matter who the opponent is, it will be a fantastic experience to be the first ever fourth division side to play in the semi final of the DFB Pokal.
DFB.de: How many messages did you receive after the draw was made?
Kwasniok: Actually not too many. Nevertheless, I probably won’t be able to fulfil everyone’s ticket requests. The capacity in Völklingen is only 6800. However, everyone at the club is doing everything they can to host the semi final at the Hermann-Neuberger stadium instead. Not just because it gives us an advantage as we’re used to playing there, but because it’s unusual for Bundesliga sides to play in stadiums with running tracks.
DFB.de: 1. FC Saarbrücken have already knocked out four professional clubs on their route to the semi final. Has your role as the underdog become smaller as you’ve progressed?
Kwasniok: I don’t think so. In fact, I’d say it’s actually got even bigger. Knocking out Bundesliga sides such as 1. FC Köln or Fortuna Düsseldorf is difficult enough as a fourth division side. Now we’re up against one of the best teams in Germany in Bayer 04 Leverkusen, who have aspirations of qualifying for the Champions League.
DFB.de: Has what you’ve actually achieved as a fourth division side quite sunk in yet? Kwasniok: The boys had the day off after the quarter final. Then we turned our attentions straight back to our league game against FC Astoria Walldorf. So we didn’t really have much time to think about it. The draw brought back all of the emotions and memories.
DFB.de: A day before the draw you lost 1-0 to Walldorf. Do you think the DFB-Pokal success is becoming a distraction from your league games?
Kwasniok: That game in Walldorf was just one of those games. We could’ve played for two hours and still not scored a goal. Our build up play was good and we set up well but we just couldn’t take our chances. I don’t think that has anything to do with the DFB-Pokal though, the boys haven’t lost focus from the league. When I book a holiday I look forward to it for a couple of months before, not every single day of the year. We know we’re in it, so the dates and times getting announced won’t draw our focus away at all. There’s still a lot of time to go before the end of April.
DFB.de: Has the perception of 1. FC Saarbrücken changed in any way because of this Pokal success?
Kwasniok: We’ve been getting a lot of well-wishes and a lot of praise for our Pokal adventure this season. Of course there’s always the danger of becoming complacent though, but I haven’t seen any signs of that from my team. The performances have been great both in and out of the Pokal. Now I get the feeling that every one of our opponents really want to beat us that little bit more.
DFB.de: In the Regionalliga Südwest there’s a huge title race between you and SV 07 Elversberg. You play each other on 9th May, do you think this could be a title decider?
Kwasniok: It’s impossible to say whether it will be a title decider yet, it’s too early. There’s a lot of time to go yet and you never know what can happen. Saying that, after the loss to Walldorf, there was no sign of panic in the dressing room. We know that promotion is in our hands and we have to make it happen.
DFB.de: Going back to the Pokal, why do you think you can cause the upset against Bayer Leverkusen?
Kwasniok: The probability of us getting through to the final in Berlin iss mall, we have tob e honest with ourselves. Bayer’s ambitions are very different to ours. They’re a team who need space to operate and we can deny them that space. I’m convinced that we’ll get three or four good chances against them ourselves, and we have to take them. If we play the way we did against Fortuna then we are more than capable of doing it.
DFB.de: What’s the plan in Saarland if you do get to the final?
Kwasniok: I’d probably give the lads an extra day off. We haven’t even thought about definitely pulling off an upset in any of the other rounds in order to lower the pressure on the players and that won’t change for this one. One thing I will say though: we won’t go down without a fight in this semi-final.