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The second-division season is entering the final straight. For the Boys in Brown, the eight-game push to the finish line starts with the visit of MSV Duisburg on Friday evening (1830 CET). After back-to-back 4-0 defeats against HSV and SV Sandhausen, Markus Kauczinski’s side are determined to return to winning ways against the Zebras.

"We’re in a difficult situation but we’re facing up to it and have to put it behind us. That’s our mission for the international break,” said Uwe Stöver after the 4-0 reverse at Sandhausen, the second drubbing in six days. “The players were carrying a burden after the derby defeat and it got progressively heavier after Sandhausen took the lead,” the director of sport added.

The Boys in Brown will have to cast off that burden if they are to get back on track by beating MSV Duisburg. "We have to be careful not to throw away the good position we put ourselves in,” said goalkeeper Robin Himmelmann after the Sandhausen game. The players have therefore spent the last 12 days going over the recent defeats in minute detail in order to identify the right conclusions for the rest of the season.

Duisburg come to the Millerntor with new-found confidence in the battle against relegation after going three games without defeat (0-0 at Aue, 1-0 against Magdeburg, 1-1 at Regensburg). Yet because MSV’s last game against Cologne was postponed and Sandhausen beat the Boys in Brown, Torsten Lieberknecht‘s side slipped back into the drop zone. Buoyed by their recent defensive improvement (just one goal conceded in their last three games), MSV will go all out to vacate the relegation places again, of course.

The Boys in Brown, who go into the game without the injured Philipp Ziereis, Henk Veerman, Luca Zander, Jan-Philipp Kalla and Richard Neudecker, will be no less motivated, but a vastly improved performance is required. In view of the recent setbacks, captain Johannes Flum was in no doubt that the team could only get back to winning ways by showing “total commitment” and going to the limit on Friday evening.



Photo: Witters