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Boys in Brown fired up for return of fans to the Millerntor

FC St. Pauli contest their first home league game in more than three months against FC Heidenheim on Sunday (13:30 CET). Supporters will be present inside the Millerntor for the first time since early March to see the Boys in Brown take on the side who finished third last term. Head coach Timo Schultz makes his competitive debut at the Millerntor and along with a total of 2,226 spectators will be hoping to celebrate with a win.

After the 2-2 draw at VfL Bochum, double goalscorer Daniel-Kofi Kyereh didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Should he happy that his team had grabbed an unlikely point or frustrated after missing a chance to make it 3-2 in the 90th minute and almost certainly win the game? "On the one hand, we were relieved to rescue a point, but on the other, I was annoyed not to add a third goal," said Kyereh, who with a little distance was keen to emphasise the positive aspects, such as the impressive morale and high-energy performance that had prevented his side from slipping to an opening-day defeat.

Preparations for the opening home game against Heidenheim thus began on a high and it has been high‑octane stuff in training as the battle for one of the coveted spots in the team hots up. "A number of players are pushing hard for a place, the lads are going flat out in training. For the starting lineup that means there are a lot of players in contention who are champing at the bit," said Schultz, delighted with the competition for places.

Spectators will take their places inside the ground for the first time since the 3-1 victory over VfL Osnabrück on 1 March, when the usual sell-out 29,546 crowd packed into the Millerntor. There will be only 2,226 fans this time, however, even though 5,900 would have been allowed. Taking the club's hygiene concept as a basis, it was agreed with the local health authority not to start with the maximum possible. "I’m always happy when fans are in the ground even if there’ll only be just over 2,000 to begin with," said Schultz.

It will be a tough ask against Heidenheim, who enjoyed their best ever season last term in finishing third and only narrowly missed out against Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga play-off. Frank Schmidt, now in his 14th year in charge, saw his side go out of the DFB Cup after a 1-0 defeat at Wehen Wiesbaden a fortnight ago but made a successful start to their league campaign last week, securing a deserved 2-0 home win over newly promoted Eintracht Braunschweig.

"We know it won't be one bit easier than it was on Monday night," said Kyereh, "but we also know our strengths and so we're aiming to reproduce the form we showed in the final few minutes at Bochum."


Photos: Witters