Fifth-tier side Greifswalder FC are preparing for the biggest game in the club’s history. On Saturday at 15:30 CEST, they will face FC Augsburg in the first round of the DFB-Pokal. Sporting director Roland Kroos, father of Toni and Felix, discussed his club’s chances and the connection his sons still have to their youth club in an interview with DFB.de.
DFB.de: Mr. Kroos, how excited is your club for the game against FC Augsburg?
Roland Kroos: Massively! The whole town is excited about the game, not just the club. We’re all happy that football can be played again. It’s our first competitive game in seven months.
DFB.de: Will Greifswalder FC have a chance against the Bundesliga side?
Kroos: We have to be realistic and say our main aim is to put in a good performance to keep the game alive for as long as possible. I don’t think anybody is thinking about making the next round at the moment. We want to provide the fans with a great afternoon and just see what comes of it at the end of the day. You can’t forget that we’re a fifth-tier team.
DFB.de: What do you think about FC Augsburg?
Kroos: To be honest, we’re not focusing on the opponents. We’re just looking at ourselves. As an amateur side, we’re obviously the outsiders against a Bundesliga team, so we’re just going to concentrate on our game and try to survive for as long as we can.
DFB.de: This will probably be the biggest day of most your players’ careers, won’t it?
Kroos: I should think so, yeah. Most of them won’t ever get the chance to play against a Bundesliga team like this, so it’s important that they enjoy it and give their all. We can’t do anymore than that. This DFB-Pokal game is a real bonus – our focus is on the Oberliga, which starts in a week’s time.
DFB.de: You’re hoping to win promotion to the Regionalliga Nordost.
Kroos: We’ve narrowly missed out on several occasions in recent years – also because of the season getting cancelled. Now we’re starting another attempt. We want to put in a good season and be there or thereabouts. However, you can’t plan for promotion with only the champions going up. We can’t show many weaknesses from the first matchday onwards. We’d love to make it to the Regionalliga.
DFB.de: How do you rate your chances?
Kroos: That’s hard to say ahead of the new season. There’s two or three other clubs with similar aims to ours. I’m certain that it will be tight and we’ll have a good chance of going up, however that depends on several factors. We need to be prepared.
DFB.de: You’ve been sporting director and coach over recent years. Why are you now concentrating on just being sporting director now?
Kroos: It’s difficult to do both jobs at once, especially when you want to be as professional as possible and oversee the club’s promotion. I always put my heart and soul into being coach, however we came to the joint decision that I should just concentrate on being sporting director.
DFB.de: What does that consist of?
Kroos: My main responsibilities are squad planning and scouting, so there’s always something to do. I also have to organise training camps and look after sponsoring too. There’s a wide range of things to do in this role, and I really enjoy it. I’ve definitely not been bored over the past few weeks and months.
DFB.de: This summer has been pretty eventful overall for the Kroos family. Toni announced his retirement from international football, while Felix ended his career entirely. As their father, what do you make of their decisions?
Kroos: I obviously knew a bit earlier than the rest of the world, they always tell their family beforehand, so the decisions weren’t a shock to me. They’ve got their reasons and they’re old enough to make these kinds of decisions. As a result, I don’t want to get too involved.
DFB.de: How often are they back at Greifswalder FC?
Kroos: Toni doesn’t have much time to be here, so he’s only back vary rarely. It’s the same for Felix too. He has to now decide what he’s going to do next. Nevertheless, they’re both really interested in how the club is doing. They regularly find out what has been going on – that’s no problem from afar in the modern world. Generally, the name Kroos has a positive reputation in both the club and the whole town and we’re proud of that. This is our home! People speak a lot about Toni and Felix. Two brothers enjoying careers like theirs from the same club rarely occurs.
DFB.de: Do you think a return might be on the cards?
Kroos: I doubt it. Toni’s near future lies in Madrid – his kids go to school there. I also don’t think Felix will return to Greifswald in the short term – they’ve got different ideas of where they want to be.