FC St. Pauli caused a huge upset in the DFB-Pokal after the Bundesliga 2 league leaders knocked out holders Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16, winning 2-1. Head coach Timo Schultz spoke after the game about the thrilling encounter, the spectators, their next goal and a possible DFB-Pokal derby against Hamburger SV.
DFB.de: Mr. Schultz, how would you sum up the game?
Timo Schultz: My team fought very hard in this cup tie. They started the game brilliantly, were able to score two goals relatively quickly and then of course had to withstand our strong opposition’s efforts to get back into it. We set up with quite a deep defensive line, and left our opponent with too much space in between the lines. However, we were struggling to cope with the long ball over the top, and they’d been able to create a few chances via this route. Dennis Smarsch [St. Pauli goalkeeper] made some important stops to keep us in the lead. If you look at the 90 minutes as a whole, how we dug in and how far we ran, you cannot say that the win is undeserved, and when you play against such a good side, you do need a little pinch of luck. But overall, we deserved to go through today.
DFB.de: What was the secret behind keeping BVB striker Erling Haaland quiet, apart from the penalty he scored?
Schultz: I’ve seen him put in some brilliant performances this season, but our centre-back partnership of Jakov Medic and James Lawrence did well against him in the two-versus-one situations. As a team, were constantly trying to prevent them from getting in behind, especially if he was going to get on the end of those passes.
DFB.de: What made you decide to start Etienne Amenyido, who went on to score in the game?
Schultz: We need to play an extremely physical game today. We needed players who were able to cover a lot of ground, and that’s what he can do. He also played for Dortmund as a youth player, which might he given him some extra motivation for the match. His goal last weekend [against Erzgebirge Aue] helped to put him in the conversation to start in this match. He’s a highly-rated player who didn’t get off to the best start here due to his injuries. We’re still really happy to have him, but he’s got some areas to work on. He’s very hard-working, though, and so I’m particularly pleased that he got his reward.
DFB.de: After you conceded and the score went to 2-1, your team didn’t appear nervous, but actually very proactive...
Schultz: Yes, we tried to grab the bull by the horns, in a sense. We were a bit frustrated about the penalty decision. I think it’s a penalty no coach in the world wishes to concede, but the team reacted superbly. I think we defended very well in general, and it’s a given that a team like Borussia Dortmund were going to create chances against us.
DFB.de: Is this the best win of your career as a head coach?
Schultz: In the DFB-Pokal, for sure. Overall though, I would say the derby wins [against HSV] were a little sweeter.
DFB.de: 2000 spectators were in attendance at the Millerntor-Stadion tonight, but did the atmosphere at the ground tonight make it seem like there were more fans there than in reality?
Schultz: The atmosphere was definitely better tonight than it was against Erzgebirge Aue, but that’s because it was simply a bigger game. I think I speak for all head coaches here when I say that everybody would like to play in front of as many fans as possible. A DFB-Pokal round of 16 tie like this, against a team like Dortmund - the game deserved for there to be more fans in attendance. Irrelevant of who play in the quarter final, I hope more fans are allowed into the stadium. They’re what make football so great. It would have meant that tonight’s atmosphere would have been even better, but the fans still supported us brilliantly, and we really needed them towards the end of the game. I’ve got no complaints in this regard.
DFB.de: How wide were the grins on your players’ faces after the game?
Schultz: Very wide, and they were right to be. Mine was the same, I was so happy. We’ve achieved something extraordinary today. It’s not often that we get past even the first round (laughs). And now we’re in the quarter final, which is fantastic. I’m not bothered about the prize money at all. I got the lads round in a circle and said that a quarter final is a game in which you can secure a ticket to the semi final, which is a fantastic opportunity. But now we’ve got the derby to focus on, which is coming up on Friday. We’ll need to play equally as well there, too, because our neighbours are also a good side.
DFB.de: You’ve just said it there yourself. Your local rivals Hamburger SV are also in the draw for the quarter final. How would you find it if you were to face them in the next round? Or would you hope to play against a different opponent?
Schultz: My main wish is that we play in front of a crowd, even if we get drawn away to HSV, I’d just love to play in front of the fans, especially in make-or-break game like the DFB-Pokal quarter final.
DFB.de: Win the DFB-Pokal or get promoted to the Bundesliga: which is a bigger dream for you?
Schultz: First of all, I’d say the situation we’re in now is brilliant at the minute. I’ve now been here 15 years, and I don’t think we’ve ever been in such a good position whereby we’re still in the DFB-Pokal and we’re doing great in the league. The best thing for us is to keep focusing on the next game. We’ve got the derby on Friday and then the cup draw on Sunday - we’re just going to take things step-by-step. I think that’s a good plan.