Zlatko Janjic has played a big part in helping SC Verl get to the top the table in the Regionalliga West. The 33-year-old former Bundesliga player has scored eight times in eleven games. Janjic and Co. face second tier Holstein Klein in the DFB-Pokal on Wednesday, 30th October and will be hoping to cause another upset.
DFB.de: SC Verl is one of just two teams from the fourth tier who have made it through to the second round of the DFB-Pokal. What does that mean to you, Mr. Janjic?
Zlatko Janjic: It’s a big deal for everyone at the club. We’re part of the 32 best teams in this competition and have another chance to show the whole of Germany what we’re about. There are a few players in our squad who have either never played in the DFB-Pokal or have only played a couple of times and now we’re playing in the second round. It’s a great experience for all of us.
DFB.de: What went through your head when you drew Holstein Kiel as your next opponents?
Janjic: You always want to draw one of the big names from the Bundesliga in this tournament. That didn’t happen with Holstein Kiel. Nevertheless, we are coming up against an ambitious and established second division team with a lot of individual quality. Our ground will be sold out with 5,000 spectators so we can look forward to a fantastic atmosphere again.
DFB.de: Has SC Verl’s underdog status diminished having beaten top-tier FC Augsburg in the first round of the cup?
Janjic: I wouldn’t say so. Kiel are too good for that. However, we showed in the Augsburg game that if everything goes well we are capable of coming out on top against a high quality team. We want to make sure that Holstein Kiel do not reach their full potential against us. We play powerful football, press the opposition early and are always dangerous with our fast switching.
DFB.de: Getting through to the second round seems to have given the team a boost in the league, right?
Janjic: Yes. We’ve had eight wins on the bounce in the league. The cup game showed what is possible when we give it everything. We went without a win in our first two matches of the season and the Augsburg game gave us the initial spark. We’ve been riding a wave of success since then. When we’re really firing, it’s not unusual for us to score four or five goals. Our recent good performances are no accident.
DFB.de: You’re top of the league at the moment. Is promotion to the third division now your main objective?
Janjic: It might sound cliché but we actually always just focus on the next challenge and it’s worked out well so far. Rot-Weiss Essen and SV Rödinghausen made no secret of their ambitions before the season. On the other hand, we still have a very young team. Obviously, when you’re playing well then you want to stay at the top for as long as possible.
DFB.de: You’re currently the joint top scorer in the league with Aygün Yildirim on eight goals from eleven appearances. What’s behind your hot streak?
Janjic: When the team is playing well, you often benefit as an individual. Our speedy wingers are ideal for my style of play. I’ve already proved myself in higher leagues so my tally comes as no surprise to me. After several years, including one and a half seasons at the Polish first division club Korona Kielce, I wanted to be closer to my wife Nadine, our ten-year-old daughter Zoey and our eight-year-old son Emilio, who stayed in Bielefeld. Over time, priorities change.
DFB.de: There have, however, been some setbacks on the pitch. Does your 4-1 defeat to RSV Meinerzhagen and subsequent early exit from the Westphalian Association Cup still weigh on your mind?
Janjic: That obviously didn’t go how we expected. The game began badly for us with an early red card. It’s similar to how Augsburg must have felt facing us as favourites. It was disappointing but we learnt a lot from it. It shows that you can have problems against any team when you don’t live up to your standards. Fortunately, we can still qualify for the DFB-Pokal through the league, which is what we did back in spring.
DFB.de: What’s it going to take for you to cause another upset against Holstein Kiel and qualify for the round of sixteen?
Janjic: Everyone will need to give more than one hundred percent effort if we’re going to have a chance. We have to make up for the difference in quality by running more and winning more tackles. I think we can cause Holstein Kiel some problems at the back with our style of play.