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Since resuming training on 19 June the Boys in Brown have spent 38 days working hard in preparation for the new campaign, which finally gets under way tomorrow evening at VfL Bochum (kick-off: 2030 CET). New boss Olaf Janssen is hoping a mixture of passion and composure will get them off to a successful start.

"We're all really looking forward to the opening game and can hardly wait to get started again," said new captain Bernd Nehrig before the season opener at VfL Bochum. "We've worked very hard in pre-season and are looking forward to getting back to competitive action," he added. That hard work should be rewarded with a win at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion on Friday evening, of course.

The new recruits – assistant coaches Markus Gellhaus and Patrick Glöckner plus striker Sami Allagui and defenders Clemens Schoppenhauer and Luca Zander – have settled in quickly and played their part as the Boys in Brown won every one of their warm-up matches. The 2-1 defeat of Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen in the dress rehearsal will have done wonders for their confidence.

Going into Friday's game everyone is agreed that Bochum will be formidable opponents. After the 3-1 home defeat against the Boys in Brown on the final day they finished last season in ninth place. In the meantime the Ruhr outfit have bolstered their attack with the signing of Lukas Hinterseer (FC Ingolstadt), Dimitrios Diamantakos (Karlsruher SC) and former Bayer Leverkusen man Robbie Kruse (Liaoning FC).

The dismissal of head coach Gertjan Verbeek during the close season came as something of a surprise. His successor, Ismail Atalan of third division Sportfreunde Lotte, was appointed on the very same day. The new boss had less than three weeks' time to get to know his players and get them ready for the new season but guided his side to four wins in four matches. Convincing victories over third division sides Rot-Weiss Erfurt (6-0) and Carl Zeiss Jena (5-2) and fourth-tier outfit Wattenscheid 09 (6-1) were followed by an impressive 2-2 draw against Borussia Dortmund in the final warm-up game.

"We'll have to be wide awake," said Sami Allagui in light of the threat posed by a decent Bochum side. Olaf Janssen, who has almost a full contingent of players to choose from, expects the home side to come out firing on all cylinders: "The game will be a test, both physically and mentally. It won't be enough to be up for the challenge, we'll have to keep a cool head as well."


Photo: Witters

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