1. Saarbrücken have drawn 1. FC Cologne in the second round of the DFB-Pokal, which is a dream tie for them. In the build up to the game, plenty of focus will be on head coach Dirk Lottner as the 47-year-old was a legend as player for Cologne. He later went on to train the youngsters before coaching the first team for a period of time. In an interview with DFB.de, Lottner revealed that his phone hasn’t stopped ringing since the draw was made.
DFB.de: Mr Lottner, describe your thoughts as the draw was made.
Dirk Lottner: I was over the moon. I’ve dreamt of playing 1. FC Cologne in a competitive match for a long time. It’s no secret that I grew up in that city, my family still live there, and that my heart belongs to their football team. We will try to beat them and knock them out of the DFB-Pokal nonetheless.
DFB.de: Just how likely is that?
Lottner: You probably won’t want to hear this but my experience has shown me that anything can happen in the DFB-Pokal and it will be the same when we play 1. FC Cologne. It’s not very likely that we will beat them, that’s just logic. Everything would have to go perfectly for that to happen. We’re really looking forward to the occasion but we can’t forget our Regionalliga commitments in the mean time. That’s where the focus should lie for the team - the DFB-Pokal is just a bonus.
DFB.de: How did you follow the draw?
Lottner: I watched it live on TV. To draw Cologne is a dream come true for me and I’m really looking forward to it. I still have a connection to a lot of the fans so as Cologne man it’s really special for me to be able to play them.
DFB.de: How has everyone else reacted to the draw?
Lottner: From the moment we drew them my phone hasn’t stopped with people calling me, texting me, wishing me well. I couldn’t reply to everything of course, and I even had to turn my phone off on Sunday night otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to sleep.
DFB.de: So do you still feel a strong connection to Cologne?
Lottner: Yes, of course. I have a small apartment in Saarbrücken but my main house is in Cologne. I also still have great contacts at their football club: of course we have spoken less and less over the years but that’s because many of the guys from my era aren’t there anymore. I like to get to the Geißbockheim when I can though, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to get to many games recently. I’ve been very busy here in Saarbrücken so it will be nice for us all to get together again at the game in the DFB-Pokal.
DFB.de: You were a club legend there as a player, then a youth coach before training the first team.
Lottner: 1. FC Cologne have always been my team and that will never change, but I’ve been the coach of Saabrücken for three years now and I feel at home here. I want to do my part to ensure that we get to where I feel we belong as a team, and that’s at least in the 3. Liga. If I’m going to make that happen though, it’s going to require my full attention.
DFB.de: Aside from you personally, how has everyone else at 1. Saabrücken reacted to the draw?
Lottner: Everyone is really happy here. It’s an interesting challenge for us all and 1. FC Cologne is an attractive prospect for us. I’m sure they’re happy over there too: if everything runs smoothly for them they should be in the next round and they don’t have to travel very far to do it. It works for both teams. We need to find a solution to the stadium problem, as ours is currently being rebuilt.
DFB.de: What would the alternatives be?
Lottner: That’s a difficult question. We can’t play the game in Völklingen because of its small infrastructure: it can only hold 6,800 fans and there aren’t any proper floodlights. It’s simply not the place for such a special game. The stadium in Elversberg isn’t much bigger and the same goes for Homburg. You can only fit between 13- and 15,000 in there and that could cause problems between fans so it might have to be somewhere further away like Pirmasens or Frankfurt. The important thing is though, that our focus on the Regionalliga doesn’t get lost in the hype of the DFB-Pokal. We want to be champions and get promoted to the 3.Liga - that’s our main target.
DFB.de: You’re looking good for that at the moment.
Lottner: It’s only the beginning of the season, but yes we have started well. Four wins in four is the perfect way to kick off the season.
DFB.de: Plus there’s the win against 2. Liga Jahn Regensburg too.
Lottner: That was the highlight. We weren’t lucky to win either, in fact we totally deserved to progress to the second round.
DFB.de: The game against 1. FC Cologne falls slap bang in between the matches against SV Elversberg and Kickers Offenbach.
Lottner: Yes, our two main competitors in the promotion fight as well. It’s just bad timing unfortunately and it really doesn’t help us in preparing for these games. We’ll probably end up playing on Saturday against Kickers Offenbach, then on Tuesday or Wednesday against Cologne and then again the following Saturday in Elversberg. It’s a tight schedule and I’m not happy about it because it takes away some of the excitement. We’ll have to see how we get it all organised. Promotion is our only goal: beating Cologne would be a beautiful story but at the end of the day, It’s all about whether we can get promoted or not.###more###