Marco Kehl-Gomez (28) not only captained Rot-Weiss Essen to the top of the Regionalliga West at the winter break, but also to the round of 16 in the DFB-Pokal. RWE beat neighbours and Bundesliga 2 side Fortuna Düsseldorf 3-2, with the midfielder also scoring. The man from Switzerland spoke to dfb.de about RWE’s strong run and his desired opponents in the next round.
DFB.de: After knocking out Bundesliga outfit Arminia Bielefeld in the first round, Rot-Weiss Essen were at it again last night, putting out second-tier side Fortuna Düsseldorf. How have you managed to reach the round of 16?
Marco Kehl-Gomez: Our plan worked out perfectly. We wanted to remain unbeaten and went into the game aiming to win it. We scored three goals from our five big chances and put a lot of hard work in defensively. It was a nice reward for us after everything we put in. It’s the best Christmas present!
DFB.de: RWE have reached the round of 16 for the first time in 13 years. What does that mean to you?
Kehl-Gomez: It means a lot to me personally, because I’ve never reached the third round of the DFB-Pokal. I was part of the Chemnitzer FC side that managed to beat Bundesliga team 1. FSV Mainz 05, but we went out to Werder Bremen in the second round. Rot-Weiss Essen, who have had a difficult past 10 years, simply deserve this. It’s good that people can see RWE where they belong.
DFB.de: What are your plans for the holidays?
Kehl-Gomez: I will visit my parents and sister in Zürich at Christmas. My wife Laura and our daughters Liara and Celia already went ahead last week.
DFB.de: The club’s aim this season is to win promotion to the 3. Liga. What role does the DFB-Pokal therefore play?
Kehl-Gomez: Our main priority and focus is on the league. Promotion to the 3. Liga is the most important thing for us. But why shouldn’t we compete on two fronts and continue to cause upsets in the DFB-Pokal? We are able to separate both competitions and so far things have worked well.
DFB.de: Your coach Christian Neidhart described your ex-club 1. FC Saarbrücken as ‘role models’. As well as promotion last season, they also became the first fourth-tier side in history to reach the semi-finals of the Pokal. Is that also possible for RWE?
Kehl-Gomez: We have put out a Bundesliga side and an ambitious second-tier team so far. Even though it’s a typical cliché, anything is possible in football and it wasn’t like we didn’t deserve the two victories.
DFB.de: Going into the winter break, Rot-Weiss Essen are unbeaten across all competitions. What makes this team so special?
Kehl-Gomez: The whole squad is singing from the same hymn sheet. We have players who can come off the bench and perform as well as others. This was incredibly important in the final 30 minutes against Fortuna Düsseldorf. We’ve got so much confidence right now thanks to our unbeaten run this season.
DFB.de: Be honest, are you slightly surprised by your side’s good run?
Kehl-Gomez: I said at the training camp before the season started that we will be towards the top of the table. We just had to bring our qualities onto the pitch, which we’ve done really well this year. Now we need to continue like this in 2021.
DFB.de: How much did you miss the loyal RWE fans against Düsseldorf?
Kehl-Gomez: The RWE fans are crazy, but in a good way. I think we’ll have put a smile on thousands of Essen fans’ faces just before Christmas, which is great.
DFB.de: The draw for the next round will be made on Sunday, 3rd January by former ski jumper Sven Hannawald. Who do you want RWE to face?
Kehl-Gomez: I wanted FC Schalke 04 in the second round and I want them again now! It would be a good match between two sides rich in tradition and I’m sure a lot of people in the local region would get excited about it.